Black Friday saw injuries and arrests in the UK on 28th November as shoppers climbed over each other to fight for limited deals in supermarkets and other shops. The BBC and other media outlets reported that police were called to several shops, with one woman being injured by a falling television.
Why has Black Friday become such a big deal? It started in the USA to encourage shoppers to take advantage of the day after Thanksgiving – which is always on the last Thursday of November. Over the past three or four years, possibly thanks to globalised brands like Amazon and Asda-Walmart, the Black Friday event has become a feature of the UK marketing calendar.
It’s not hard to see how it is taken off. We’re still living in the tail end of a heavy recession, following several years of retail business collapses. In more affluent times, retailers would wait until Boxing Day to have a winter sale – nowadays the sales start on Black Friday as retailers bid for every sale they can get.
Hey, let’s go Black Friday stropping
This year, Black Friday fell on payday for most people, so we had the unique combination of people feeling flush, shops creating a buzz with some sexy deals and the media whipping up a frenzy because they knew they would get stories like the one that happened in Tesco stores.
Here are just some of the occurrences reported by BBC News:
- About 200 shoppers refused to leave a store in Middleton “despite being told stock had all gone”.
- Fights broke out between shoppers in Stretford, and a woman suffered “minor injuries” after being hit by a falling television. The store was closed at 00:36 GMT.
- A man was arrested in Salford after he threatened to “smash a staff member’s face in”.
- A woman broke her wrist in a crush, with Greater Manchester Police’s deputy chief constable Ian Hopkins describing shoppers’ behaviour as “appalling”.
Sky News published a video of an Asda shop that had hired a team of cheerleaders for the day – all dressed in black and cheering on the rush for bargains.
Lessons from Black Friday 2014
Marketers can learn lessons from each big event. The UK’s retailers will learn to be prepared for an even bigger rush next year.
- The Drum reported that Argos, Tesco, Currys and Boots all buckled under the weight of online demand.
- Police have criticised retailers for the carnage – especially Tesco, after police had to attend at least 15 stores because of ‘mini riots’.
- Asda wasn’t satisfied with just having a Black Friday, it is also running Black Saturday. What next, Black Weekend?
Lots of people were chatting about bargains, and the fighting and sit-ins, on Twitter. The most popular was probably this piece of sarcasm targeted at Tesco.