Credit: Alex Dawson/Wikimedia

Black Friday: damp squib?

Shoppers are neglecting the high street and heading online.

by Jack Torrance
Last Updated: 04 Jan 2016

MT expected to be wading through hoardes of marauding shoppers on the way to work today, given its office is located just off Oxford Street. But despite it being Black Friday, Europe’s busiest shopping street isn’t quite as busy as you might think. 

The retailers were all prepared. Some had been open since the small hours and almost all have put up signs touting their 'one day only' deals – even the tacky gift shops flogging union jack-emblazoned bulldogs. But the pavements are no more heaving than usual and plenty of the stores were virtually empty.

This is all anecdotal, of course, but the nation’s media is awash with similar reports as the deals seem to have attracted more journalists than shoppers in some places and there are no signs of brawls like last year's. That could be because retailers have beefed up security this time around, but the drizzle enveloping Britain’s high streets probably hasn’t helped either.

— Sarah Butler (@whatbutlersaw) November 27, 2015

So were all the predictions of Britain’s biggest day of shopping ever wrong? Probably not. Consumers may be steering clear of the shops but all indications suggest they are splashing the cash online. A Kantar survey published this morning found that while 12.8% of Brits were planning to pick up a bargain in shops today, 34.8% were planning to buy something online.

Currys PC World says it’s making eight sales per second and flogging a TV set every two seconds through its website, which has seen a 2900% increase in orders compared to this time last week. (formerly LittleWoods Direct) said it was on track to have its biggest day ever after attracting more than 500,000 visitors early this morning, up 60% on last year.

'At 9am sales were double those we saw at the same time last year, with food preparation appliances and TV deals flying out the door,' added John Roberts, founder and chief executive of the online white goods retailer 

Black Friday may not have coaxed unruly gangs of shoppers out of their beds this morning, but it looks set to keep the nation’s delivery drivers very busy for the next week or so.

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