Lack of big crowds in region as the Black Friday shoppers head online

Shoppers out in Norwich city centre on Black Friday. Photo : Steve Adams

Shoppers out in Norwich city centre on Black Friday. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Last year it brought chaos to our high streets. So was Black Friday a big flop this year? ROSA MCMAHON reports.

Shops were braced for madness as Black Friday began – but in a huge anti-climax, crowds failed to show up.

In this region, many towns and cities saw no more than their regular stream of Friday customers as shoppers opted to avoid the rush and buy another day or go online.

Early morning queues did not form outside Norwich's department stores and shops despite earlier opening hours.

And in Lowestoft, King's Lynn, Fakenham and Cromer, shoppers were out spending, but some retailers ignored the event altogether.

Norwich market trader Scott Allen, 36, said he resisted changing his prices to compete with the chains running big Friday offers.

'Everyone has got Black Friday on their mind, but they are heading to the big stores for bargains,' the Raw Hide owner said.

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'I have been asked if I am selling things at half price but I have decided to keep my prices the same.

'Our prices are as low as they can be. It's hard enough battling against big shops near us, so with Black Friday it's impossible.'

Norfolk police were asked to provide a 'presence' at Tesco in Sprowston in the early hours of Friday

morning – but were not needed as just 10 shoppers turned up.

The boss of Lowestoft-based Hughes Electrical previously labelled Black Friday a 'necessary evil', despite seeing it deliver bumper sales, and Intu Chapelfield bosses said shopper numbers were more than 5pc up on last year.

But other traders were not as impressed.

Norwich Lanes marketing director, Jonty Young, said the event was not the right sales model for smaller businesses.

'We are not wholly convinced by Black Friday,' he explained. 'I think it's one of those things that the big boys make the money on the and smaller people price honestly all year round.'

Andre Baker was offering 20pc off items in Split'z ladies fashion boutique, on Norwich Street in Fakenham. 'I haven't seen a single soul,' she said after her first hour passed quietly. 'Has it been a success? No, it hasn't. I'll do it tomorrow, but I can't see me doing it again.'