Black Friday Arrives in Europe

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The "Black Friday" retail phenomenon arrives in our side of the globe, as more retailers embrace the pre-Christmas shopping extravaganza-- and the customer brawls and near riots it brings about.

Black FridayFriday 31 November saw eager customers scrambling, if not fighting, for the chance to snap up low(er) cost TVs and consoles, as an estimated 65% of UK retailers, including the likes of Dixons, Argos, Tesco and John Lewis, planned Black Friday promotions. And we mean "fighting" in the most literal sense, as Reuters reports police were called in to control crowds in London, Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow.

"There was a fight in the queue in front of us," one shopper says.

Other European nations are getting into the Black Friday spirit as well, as Spanish retailer El Corte Ingles used the term to promote discounts in France and Denmark.

The discount shopping craze also hits online retail-- so much so it even caused some websites to crash. Which is fair enough, as Amazon is the reason Black Friday crept to our shores. After all, Black Friday used to be a US-only thing, since it is technically the day following Thanksgiving.

It is allegedly called so because it's the day retailers go "in the black," although another explanation insists it comes from the Philadelphia Police Department, who reportedly used it to describe the traffic jams and crowding in downtown stores.

While Black Friday might sound like a great pre-holiday means of shifting inventory, some analysts warn it carries a hazard. "All Black Friday is likely to do is bring forward business from December, reduce gross margins and undermine consumers' willingness to pay full-price again before Christmas," retail analyst Nick Bubb tells Reuters. However Dixons insists this is not the case, as Black Friday allows for the placement of "especially large" orders, thus securing profits.

Either way, Black Friday appears to be here to stay, together with its online-only sibling, the so-called "Cyber Monday." Do you have any stories on customer discount craze? Do let us know!

Go Bargains and Brawls: "Black Friday" Comes to Britain (Reuters)