Black Friday, the American holiday dedicated to discount shopping, seems to have been successfully imported into the UK, bringing with it both crowds and chaos.
As one of the first big retailers to imitate the American tradition, Asda seems to have been particularly affected by the frenzy, with multiple reports of hospitalizations and injuries from Asda stores across the UK.
In an Asda store in west Belfast there were claims that heavily pregnant woman had been pushed and shoved and pensioners had been knocked to the ground. A spokesman from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service had confirmed that they were called to the store to attend to a woman with a suspected broken arm.
"It was just a free-for-all. It was frightening," said one woman who witnessed the scenes at the Westwood Centre. "People were getting trailed to the ground. People were arguing with people. Two of my friends were injured."
The woman claimed her friend was kicked in the stomach by a shopper trying to take a TV from her. "The other one, who is disabled, was actually kicked to the ground and trampled on and now has a broken arm and is waiting to hear if she is going to need surgery next week," she said.
Similar reports have emerged from stores in Liverpool and Bristol, with eyewitnesses reporting in the latter store that a man had to be restrained by security guards after becoming annoyed that he could only buy a single TV.
Electronic goods seemed to be the main draw for shoppers, but Asda staff were verbally abused by customers upset by the lack of stock.
A spokeswoman for Asda said:"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.
"Throughout the event, the safety of our customers is of vital importance and to ensure our stores can cope with the extra footfall we have full security teams in our stores and extra colleagues to help assist customers in the aisles."
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