Predictably the introduction of the American tradition Black Friday that gives shopper the opportunity to buy products cheaply on the last Friday in November ended in chaos as one British shopper was arrested for fighting over a pair of TVs.
Up and down the country, customer scrambled and fought each other for the one-day only deals as people used to when the January sales were at their height. Adding in the British tradition of queuing for many hours before the doors opened at stores like Asda, must have added to the frustration as early morning arguments and fights were commonplace. Twitter has been full of users describing incidents that they witnessed or were part of. One female shopper at Asda in Liverpool was taken to hospital after being assaulted in a queue outside one of the Walmart-owned supermarkets.
A man was arrested in Bristol after an argument broke out when he tried to buy two 60-inch televisions, and there were riot-style scenes at Asda in Benton, North Tyneside where shelves were emptied in moments as customers overran the shop.
Asda’s response to the chaos was to put out a statement saying: “This is the first time Black Friday has been done on this scale in stores across the UK and our customers were eager to take advantage of the great offers available to them. We planned for high demand and the half a million Black Friday products on offer to our customers have been selling quickly since 8am.” The statement seems pre-written as it didn’t mention any of the problems that cutting prices for one day so close to Christmas created.
The Black Friday tradition, which occurs the day after Thanksgiving in America, encourages sales on a day that is a national holiday for the USA. Its introduction to these shores is being pushed by US retailers like Asda, Apple and Amazon. Let’s hope that Asda organise things better to make sure that the scenes witnessed yesterday don’t stop this tradition from taking hold in the UK.