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Police called as Black Friday crowds form

Police were called to a number of supermarkets across the UK overnight as the first Black Friday Sales were launched and crowds of bargain hunters formed.

Greater Manchester Police attended five Tesco stores, the BBC reports, making one arrest in Salford. The supermarket’s Black Friday Event - with discounts of up to 70% - started at one minute past midnight. Its website crashed soon after and was still experiencing problems at 8am.

Police were also called to supermarkets in Cardiff and London, including Tesco and Asda stores. The Metropolitan Police said nobody had been injured as a result of the overcrowding.

Tesco expects today’s sales to exceed those of Boxing Day.

John Lewis also kicked off its Black Friday discounts late last night, revealing hundreds of deals on electrical and technology products available online shortly after midnight and in stores from 8am. House of Fraser was among many others to open its doors early.

Property Group Hammerson has released data showing three quarters of consumers are planning to treat themselves with a bargain today, as well as shopping for Christmas gifts. Top on the wish list is clothing, with almost half of those surveyed (45%) citing a fashion item as their priority purchase, followed by technology and gadgets (27%) and watches, handbags and accessories (11%).

Separate research from retail finance specialist Pay4Later showed around 68% of people plan to do some of their Christmas shopping on Black Friday, as the massive price reductions coincide with pay day for millions of workers.

British womenswear brand Baukjen started its promotions early at 3am on Thursday, and saw an 800% spike in traffic to the website. By 8am yesterday its conversion rate had increased by 63% week on week.

According to Visa, £360,000 is expected to be spent every minute today, with a further £281m forecast to be spent on the busiest day for online shopping, Cyber Monday (December 1). Others have predicted Cyber Monday will pull in closer to £1.5bn.

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