Black Friday has been an increasingly noticeable thing over the past few years, but this year the UK has cranked it to 11. And a half.
As the clock struck midnight, chaos descended, with websites clogged and ground-based shoppers participating in an impromptu Royal Rumble in a bid to grab their share of pre-Christmas bargains.
Black Friday was originally a US tradition, coming the day after Thanksgiving and unofficially marking the beginning of the Christmas shopping period.
We’re still not fussed about Thanksgiving over here (I don’t understand why not; it’s essentially an excuse to eat Christmas dinner in November and December), but Black Friday has officially landed in the UK in a big way.
Various websites went into meltdown as Black Friday commenced, and while traffic seemingly calmed around 4am, an army of would-be shoppers has now woken up to bring the whole thing crashing down again.
Notable web-based failures include Tesco, which automatically retries every 30 seconds ad nauseam; Currys, which adopts a ticket/queue system; and GAME, which sorrily explains: “GAME.co.uk is currently experiencing extremely high volumes of traffic. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. We hope to be back up and running with our best deals very shortly.”
I might’ve sympathised, but GAME in particular made a huge song and dance about Black Friday, with daily deals and ultimately an hourly countdown to midnight. It fuelled the fire by sending an email after midnight claiming that its Black Friday deals were “Now Live!”
Meanwhile, Asda Direct has at least decided to make Black Friday an in-store only thing.
Amazon is one of the few retailers to get Black Friday right, with times and stock levels being updated in real time – to the second. When items sell out, customers are offered the chance to join a waiting list; buyers are permitted to hold items for up to 15 minutes before throwing them back in the pile.
Things were crazier still in stores, with police called to incidents in Manchester, Dundee, Glasgow, Cardiff, Bristol and London. A small number of arrests have been made, and there are reports of minor injuries, including a woman hit by a falling television.
On a lighter note(!), we’re compiling all the best Black Friday mobile deals in one handy feature. Anyone grab any bargains, or participate in any brawls? Let us know below!