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Black Friday 2017: Assembled media on Oxford Street disappointed to find just one man waiting outside shop

Currys PC World store opens two hours early ready for raft of customers

Tom Embury-Dennis
Friday 24 November 2017 13:30 GMT
Black Friday shop opens to one solitary shopper

Assorted media gathered at an Oxford Street shop in the early hours to film riotous crowds on Black Friday, but were left disappointed to find just one man waiting outside.

Curry’s PC World opened two hours early on Friday morning in expectation of a rush from customers hoping to snap up bargains on the annual discount day.

But a video shared by BBC home affairs reporter Frankie McCamley showed just one person entering the store as the doors opened at 7am.

Appearing slightly sheepish at the attention of the assembled media, the man, who said his name was Marcel, glided through the store to pick up his pre-ordered laptop, according to Ms McCamley.

Black Friday appears to have been a more sedate affair this year after retailers offered days of discounts.

In marked contrast to the frenzy of American shoppers who once again launched raids on shopping malls across the US, images emerged of silent streets and empty shopping centres in the early hours across Britain.

Despite the slow start, Black Friday is still expected to be the most profitable ever for retailers, with consumers set to spend £8bn over four days, according to the Centre for Retail Research.

Household names such as John Lewis, Tesco and Argos have extended their high street opening hours to take advantage of what has become the most popular weekend to spend money for Brits.

According to PCA Predict, the number of shoppers online between midnight and 7am was 24 per cent lower than 2016. But that followed an 11 per cent rise in shopping in the previous week.

“This longer sales period has shifted the emphasis away from Black Friday being a major retail event in its own right, towards becoming part of a pre-Christmas mini-season or ‘golden quarter’ for retailers,” Chris Boaz, ‎PCA Predict head of marketing, told The Guardian.

Last year consumers spent more than £900 million extra on their debit cards compared to an average weekend, with the 45-65 age group seeing the biggest increase.

Ian Geddes, head of retail at Deloitte, said: “Black Friday and Cyber Monday have established themselves among the most important dates in the UK retail calendar.

“We expect to see another record year for Black Friday, with UK online sales likely to easily exceed last year’s £1.23 billion record on the day itself.

“However, with Black Friday having grown from a day of promotions to what is now almost a month-long event, Black Friday event sales are far higher.”

Argos said it had seen a record two-million visitors to its website between 9pm Thursday evening and 1am Friday, while John Lewis said its online store had crashed briefly after promising to price-match rivals’ Black Friday offers on Thursday.

Retailers hope their weekend of discounts will encourage consumers to loosen their already squeezed wallets, with the UK on course for the longest period of falling living standards since records began, according to a leading think tank.

The Resolution Foundation said data released in the Budget showed families are suffering the biggest squeeze in their finances since the 1950s.

It said the UK economy will be £42bn smaller in 2022 than predicted in March after official data indicated dismal growth forecasts in the coming years.

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