Bargain-hunting fever hits Britain as it celebrates its annual discount day. But are retailers selling themselves short by cutting prices right at the start of the vital Christmas season? Silvia Antonioli reports.
Crowded shops, glittery displays and most of all: sales! Black Friday might be a US tradition but it has certainly become a hit in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RICHARD CRISTOFOLI, MARKETING DIRECTOR, DEBENHAMS, SAYING: "We're going to be selling probably 200 bottles of perfume a minute today. So that's just one example of the kind of like uptick we get in demand that kickstarts from today." Shoppers will spend 3-point-8 percent more during this year's Black Friday compared with last year's, according to research firm GlobalData .... More than 10 billion pounds in a boon for British retailers They suffered their biggest decline in sales for 4-and-a-half years last month ... Shoppers squeezed by inflation and low wage rises (SOUNDBITE) (English) KATIE MCQUAID, DIRECTOR OF AMAZON MARKETPLACE UK, SAYING: " I think some stats from the first six hours, we had 63,000 toy orders 32,000 sort of beauty products. It's a really busy day for us. I think really popular with customers. It is a great time for them to get in their purchase and get great value in the run up to Christmas, both on Christmas shopping but also on everyday items or treats that they want to have for themselves ." It's called Black Friday because it's when shops traditionally start to turn a profit for the year, moving from the red into the black. The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas can make or a break a retailer, accounting for up to 40 percent of annual sales. But some think consumers should be careful how they play the Black Friday card. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PETE MORREY, CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, WHICH, SAYING: "We looked at some of the most popular products on sale on Black Friday last year. And we tracked the price of them over a whole year. And what we found was that six in ten of those products were actually cheaper or the same price at other times of the year, not on Black Friday themselves. And that's why people need to do their research get a list and make sure that you really are getting a good deal on Black Friday ." On the flip side, a former Harrods boss warned that the discounting frenzy ahead of the vital Christmas season was a disaster for high street putting retailers at risk of slipping back into a Red Friday.