Poor turnout and ‘not so mega’ sales give Manchester shoppers Black Friday blues

Black Friday was met with a muted response in Manchester today, following dramatic scenes from last year’s big event showing shoppers desperate to score a bargain.

Crowd control was in place outside many city centre stores, but the scenes of chaos many witnessed last year seemed a long way away.

The American event that follows Thanksgiving has become hugely popular in the UK in recent years, with many retailers vastly discounting items ahead of Christmas.

Seasoned Black Friday Shopper Cheryl Berrisford was in the Arndale today, and told MM: “It’s busy, but it’s not like last year when you saw people fighting on the telly. I think that has put people off.

“We thought it would be a lot busier than it is. We get well prepared and we come with a shopping list.

“We’re women on a mission.

“With money being quite tight it’s better coming on Black Friday and making a big saving.

“We went yesterday to the Selfridges in the Trafford Centre as well, as there was 20% off.

“I bought a briefcase for my husband that should have been £600 but I paid four hundred and something, so it’s a massive massive saving.”

Manchester drew attention to itself last year for the riotous scenes outside Tesco’s Hattersley branch.

Three arrests were made at the Tesco, with Greater Manchester’s chief constable, Sir Peter Fahy, criticising major stores for not preparing themselves for the high volume of shoppers.

Jimmy Page had travelled all the way from Bristol to Manchester to take part in the sales, but was disappointed with what he had found.

He told MM: “Last Black Friday was mad because it was new to the UK, but I don’t think there’s the same fuss this year.

“I would rather stick with the Christmas Sales next year. I’ve not saved a lot today.”

In 2014, the average spend in the Black Friday sales by Mancunians was £126.79—which is over 75% more than the average shopping spree of £71.12*.

While retailers are expecting this amount to be lower this year, online sales are predicted break records, with UK shoppers expected to spend £1billion online in a single day, for the first time ever.

There has been a strong increase in opposition to Black Friday in the UK this year, with online forums and groups being set up to campaign against it.

One such Facebook group, titled ‘Buy Nothing Friday’ was set up by Sam Machin in Edinburgh, with its main points being to hug friends, talk to family, go for a walk and to avoid going on a spending spree.

Over 100,000 people have been invited to join Buy Nothing Friday in response to Black Friday, and nearly 40,000 people have pledged to dodge the shops.

Speaking about the group’s effectiveness, Sam said: “I think small grassroots campaigns against consuming are great at making our discomfort at the whole thing felt.

“I think Black Friday in itself is an example of how our society places an unhealthy value on products and consumption.

“We need to reassess what really makes us happy; it’s not just owning things.”

*Statistics were found in a survey by PG Tips.

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