Black Friday sales rush reported by retailers – BBC News

 In Technology

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UK shoppers have rushed to buy Black Friday bargains, as retailers and payment firms report strong sales activity for the annual discount event.

Barclaycard said it had seen a record number of transactions on Friday, while Argos, John Lewis and Currys PC World reported a surge in orders.

Online retailers said initial figures indicated Black Friday, now into its third year, had topped expectations.

Meanwhile, in the US, where it all started, websites saw heavy traffic.

The boss of department store Macy’s said it had seen a strong start to the sales, although its website later suffered glitches.

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In the UK, analysts expect sales on Friday to have topped last year’s £1.9bn, with people hunting for discounts ahead of an expected rise in prices in 2017.

Barclaycard, which processes nearly half of the credit and debit card transactions in the UK, said payment transactions were 6% higher than last year’s Black Friday.

Total spending was £2.9bn, although that also includes non-Black Friday specific purchases, a spokesman said. The firm processes payments for customers of Barclaycard, Barclays and several major retailers.

The Nationwide Building Society said purchases by its customers were up 13% on a year ago, while the discount retailing site TopCashback reported a 43% increase in spending over last year.

Many retailers are stretching the one-day shopping extravaganza over several days. Amazon and some supermarkets started their sales up to 10 days ago.

The total for the following four days is forecast to rise to more than £4bn once the weekend and Cyber-Monday – an online-only event – are included.

Experts say that the shopping cycle has changed in recent years, with Christmas consumer spending stretching for many weeks.

“The Black Friday promotions at the end of November are the start of a longer, more drawn-out peak season, which begins with most of the activity online and then moves in-store as we get closer and closer to Christmas day,” said Richard Jenkings, data analyst at credit reference agency Experian.

Increasingly, Black Friday, which came to the UK in 2014, is becoming an internet bonanza. According to the online retailing association IMRG, well over half the spend will be done online.

Andy Mulcahy, editor at IMRG, which tracks online sales, said: “It seems a safe bet from what we’ve seen today that our forecast of £1.27bn will be met [for Friday’s sales]”.

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Getty Images

Image caption

The trend for Black Friday sales started in the US

Warnings have been issued to shoppers over the dangers of getting carried along by Black Friday marketing.

“The key is to make sure you only buy items you were looking for anyway, and not because you fall for the marketing hype,” said Gary Caffell, from Moneysavingexpert.

“There are some great deals out there but make sure you do your own price comparisons, as prices can fluctuate wildly from store to store – don’t just take a retailer’s word for it that something is a bargain.”

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