For better or for worse, Black Friday has been becoming more and more popular in the United Kingdom (U.K.) for the past few years, thanks to the unstoppable march of U.S. popular culture. But just like here in the U.S., Black Friday in the UK is increasingly being met with crowds, fights, injuries, and police.
Black Friday — that is, the “official” start of the Christmas shopping season, which is the Friday after Thanksgiving — didn’t exist in the UK until 2010, according to the Telegraph. Which makes sense: Thanksgiving is an American holiday, and has never been, and is not now, celebrated in the UK. But that doesn’t mean international retailers — like Amazon or Walmart (which operates U.K. big-box retailer Asda) —are going to let something like that stop them. They began offering Black Friday deals in the U.K. in 2010, and since then, other U.K. retailers have followed with Black Friday specials of their own.
The downside to this exported retail gimmick is the same in the UK as it is on this side of the pond: too many eager shoppers, trying to grab too few deeply-discounted HDTVs and game systems, inside too-crowded stores results in people getting into fights with each other, or getting hurt, or getting the police called to intervene.
In Manchester, after being called out at least seven times in the wee hours of the morning to deal with unruly Black Friday shoppers, the Greater Manchester Police sent out a tweet, calling for calm.
At least two people arrested at #BlackFriday sales events already this morning. Keep calm people!
— G M Police (@gmpolice) November 28, 2014
Manchester Police Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy took retailers to task for not anticipating Black Friday problems ahead of time, and for not having enough of their own security, according to CNN.
“The events of last night were totally predictable and I am disappointed that stores did not have sufficient security staff on duty… It does not help that this was in the early hours when police resources are already stretched.”
Meanwhile, over in Newcastle, 55-year-old Black Friday shopper Margaret Green described to the Telegraph a scene of chaos at Asda after the store opened at 8 a.m.
“There were big fights at the tablets and the phones. It was horrific. It was like a pack of savages looking for a bargain. I was ashamed to be English to be honest.”
Despite the mishaps, Black Friday isn’t going away in the UK any time soon. Tesco, according to BBC News, expects Black Friday 2014 to be the biggest shopping day in its history. And if that prediction pans out, UK shoppers can expect more Black Friday deals — and more Black Friday problems — in the years to come.
Are you a U.K. reader who got caught up in the Black Friday madness? Share you experiences in the comments below.
[Image courtesy of: The Telegraph]