Thousands of bargain-hunters were set to descend on Sheffield today as retailers geared up for Black Friday.
Prices have been slashed, extra staff deployed and hours extended – with some shops opening from 6am – as stores brace themselves for what is set to be the busiest shopping day of the year.
During the bumper pre-Christmas sale, shoppers were expected to take advantage of drastic discounts on electrical items, fashion, fragrances, homeware and toys.
Staff at the Sheffield’s Meadowhall Shopping Centre hailed Black Friday as its busiest day of 2013 – and hoped for similar scenes this time around.
Darren Pearce, centre director, said: “Having extra customer service staff will really help to queue-bust today as we are expecting thousands of extra visitors.”
Many Meadowhall retailers have launched exclusive offers, including Apple, which is promoting a one day event.
In the city centre, electrical stores, including Currys and Game, opened at 6am to accommodate the crowds.
One of Currys’ star items is a 60-inch plasma TV, slashed from £899 to £599.
Department stores Marks & Spencer, Atkinsons and John Lewis are also offering a range of promotions.
James Prince, store manager of John Lewis in Sheffield, said: “Black Friday has now become established in our customers’ minds and they are expecting more deals.
“We were opening the branch at 8am in preparation for customers looking for an early deal and we have more staff in place to help support customer demand.”
Atkinsons has spread its Black Friday discounts across the week, giving shoppers extra time to cash in.
Graham Frith, store manager, said: “We have had a ‘festive price frenzy’ running in store since Monday.
“A few retailers latched onto Black Friday last year, but lots more are joining in this year.
“We’re expecting it to be extra busy as it is pay day for many people too.”
The Moor Market is extending its opening hours in the countdown to Christmas, and a new land train linking it to the city centre launched yesterday,
Richard Wright, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce executive director, said there could be a positive knock-on effect to other businesses from Black Friday.
He said: “It’s not just shops, but the entertainment and food side of things which can benefit.”
Coun Leigh Bramall, cabinet member for business, added: “This year it seems Black Friday is bigger than ever in the UK.
“It’ll be interesting to see if this happens across shopping centres in Sheffield.”
Supermarkets across South Yorkshire are also getting in on the act.
Asda stores opened at 8am for its two-day sale and Netto has scores of products on offer.
Frank Andersen, Netto Doncaster store manager, said: “We have Amazon Kindles, Samsung Galaxy Tablets and Samsung TV screens and more for absolutely amazing prices.”
BLACK FRIDAY FACTBOX
Black Friday is traditionally the first Friday after Thanksgiving in the USA, when many people start their Christmas shopping.
To lure in shoppers. most major retailers open early and offer promotional sales to kick-off the holiday shopping season.
In recent years. the event has crossed the Atlantic and has been growing in popularity with retailers and customers in the UK.