Black Friday indeed: Brawls between shoppers in US and UK stores

Black Friday indeed: Brawls between shoppers in US and UK stores

The prospect of snagging great bargains at Black Friday sales turned ugly and chaotic at stores across the United State and Britain as scuffles broke out between customers fighting for the best buys.

Photographs and videos of brawls over TVs, clothing, tablets and toys circulated on social media soon after the stores threw their doors open to the crowds who were queuing for hours.

Some even endured camp-outs for several days for the traditional sale, which coincided with America's Thanksgiving celebration and kick-started the Christmas shopping frenzy.

Black Friday began as an American retail event before it caught on in the UK, and worldwide when US retailers extended their deals online. This year, many more UK retailers hopped onto the bandwagon of what has been the busiest shopping season of the year in the US.

One journalist tweeted: "BlackFriday has come to Britain and it looks like hell on earth."

It has snowballed into such an epic event that some news sites gave live coverage to it. Despite past incidents of mayhem and carnage - including deaths, stores still seemed ill-prepared to tackle the big crowds.

In England, the police were upset with some Tesco stores calling them for help in the wee hours as their manpower were already stretched during that time.

In one video showing a fight between two women over Victoria's Secret lingerie in a store in UK, two male shoppers were seen trying to break it up, but with little success. Other shoppers looked on, either startled or amused by the catty dispute.

Another video, filmed at a US store, showed security officers breaking up a brawl between two female shoppers who had lunged at one another despite the officers' presence. One of them was seen handcuffed by a woman officer.

Cost-conscious consumers and bargain-hunters couldn't help but succumbed to tempting offers of branded clothes, shoes, TV sets, tablets, coffee machines and toys with prices slashed by as much as 50 per cent.

Many in US and Britain were seen snapping up big-screen TVs. Smaller 24-inch sets sold like hotcakes at 100 pounds each at a Britain store.

Many happy faces were seen lugging back their new acquisitions. But others were upset by the human crush, lack of crowd control and the violence. Some unfortunate shoppers were injured in the shoving and near-stampede.

They could have avoided all these troubles if they had stayed home and bought things online. But there were reports that some websites crashed as they had far too many visitors.

Black Friday? Indeed!

chenj@sph.com.sg

 

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