A number of retailers experienced technical difficulties this morning as shoppers rushed online to get a Black Friday bargain.
The websites of Tesco, PC World, Argos and Boots were down as they struggled to cope with a surge in demand from bargain hunters in what is expected to be the busiest online shopping day of the year. GAME, which launched its Black Friday promotions at midnight, was also down.
Meanwhile, the Curry's website instructed shoppers to join an online queue with an estimated waiting time of 30 minutes to shop online, adding:"We're really sorry that the huge demand for our deals means you’re having to wait."
Elsewhere, fights broke out at several stores and police had to be called in with concerns over “customer conduct”.
Metropolitan Police officers were called to three Tesco stores and an Asda in London in the early hours of the morning amid fears of confrontations in heated queues.
Greater Manchester Police said two people were arrested at Black Friday sales events. Officers were called to seven Tesco stores across the area and the Tesco Extra in Stretford had to be closed after fights broke out.
A GMP spokesman said: "A woman suffered minor injuries after being hit by a falling television and an ambulance was called. The store was closed at 12.36am, just over half an hour after the sales event started."
Traditionally an American shopping day, Black Friday has gained relevance in the UK in recent years. More than one in three families will do their Christmas shopping this Friday, according to research by Microsoft and Retail Week, making it the biggest shopping day so far this year.
The New West End Company, which represents businesses on London’s busiest shopping streets — Oxford Street, Regent Street and New Bond Street — expects £220 million being spent on the three streets alone today.
Black Friday is also expected to become the busiest online shopping day of 2014, with Visa predicting £360,000 spent every minute online with 8.5 million transactions.
Last year, Amazon said it processed four million orders, a record for the UK, on Black Friday. At John Lewis, online traffic between 7am and 8am was 14 times more than anything the group had seen before.