Black Friday mayhem: shoppers clash as sales begin

Police called to a number of supermarkets in the UK, amid fears of crowd surges

Shoppers wrestle over a television as they compete to purchase retail items on Black Friday at an Asda superstore in Wembley, north London.

Shoppers wrestle over a television as they compete to purchase retail items on Black Friday at an Asda superstore in Wembley, north London.

 

One of Britain’s most senior police officers has hit out at stores after “Black Friday” promotions sparked chaos and violence around the country.

Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, criticised shops for failing to provide enough security after fights broke out and huge crowds caused crushes.

Police were called to a number of supermarkets in the UK overnight, amid fears of crowd surges as stores opened their doors to hundreds of customers on one of the biggest shopping days of the year.

Officers attended shops after staff, and some members of the public, raised concerns over the volume of people attending the Black Friday sales.

A number of shops opened at midnight, boasting massive discounts on a range of goods.

Police were called to four supermarkets in London as people gathered at Tesco stores in Edmonton, Willesden and Surrey Quays and an Asda in Capital Way, Edgeware.

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Police in Manchester said two people were arrested at Black Friday sales events.

Scotland Yard said in a statement: “Officers have worked with store staff to ensure that sale-goers were able to enter and exit the stores safely.

Elsewhere shoppers described scenes of “carnage” as people scrambled for the best deals.

One person who bagged a coffee machine at a knock-down price tweeted: “After the absolute carnage that is black Friday in a tesco extra in the North of England, I walked away with a #100 coffee machine for #30.”

Online customers also faced queues as websites dealt with heavy traffic.

One person tweeted shortly after midnight: “There’s a 37 minute wait to access Currys & a queue to enter Tesco Direct.”

Those seeking cut-price deals online also faced problems, with shoppers struggling to access the websites of Tesco Direct, Currys, Argos and Game this morning.

A message on the Tesco Direct home page said: “Sorry for making you wait Lots of people are shopping with us at the moment and we need to ask you wait briefly. Don’t worry, we’ll redirect you to the website as quickly as we can.”

Those trying to shop online with Currys were told they would have to wait 25 minutes for access. “We’re really sorry that the huge demand for our deals means you’re having to wait,” the website said this morning.

“We really appreciate your patience and we’ll have you on our site as soon as possible.” A message on the Argos home page said it was limiting access because of “very high volume” and urged visitors to try again in a few minutes.

Reuters, PA