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Online surge as Black Friday shoppers head for web

Shopping centre - Black friday was quieter than expected - SantanderCB

This year's Black Friday was quieter than expected, with security and shop staff outnumbering customers at many stores as shoppers opted to make their purchases online. The Currys and PC World chains said website traffic on Thursday had been almost as high as Boxing Day last year. Currys added that it was its biggest-ever start to Black Friday, with 7m visitors to its site last week. Rival electricals retailer AO.com said that by 9am, sales were already double those at the same time on Black Friday last year. The surge in online demand meant many websites struggled to cope. Argos confirmed it had experienced delays on its site after 'extremely high levels of visits', and John Lewis said some of its customers were also experiencing delays on its site after 'record levels of demand'. Springboard, the retail data consultancy, said shopper numbers were down 6.5% in stores across the country from 8am until midday on Friday, compared with last year. Retail parks were the biggest losers, with numbers down 8.9%, followed by high streets, down 6.5%, and shopping centres down 4.6%. But data from PCA Predict showed that online activity was up 28% by 2pm. 'There has been a bit of a change in the way that shoppers are looking at Black Friday. They are still shopping, but they are shopping online. A lot of retailers have pushed them away from their stores to websites,' said Diane Wehrle, insights director at Springboard. Jon Copestake of the Economist Intelligence Unit said the pre-Christmas sales phenomenon had become entrenched in consumer culture, with shoppers prepared to wait for the best deals.

 

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