Leeds braces itself for Black Friday bonanza

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Leeds is bracing itself for a Black Friday bonanza today as retailers slash prices and up the offers to entice shoppers to kickstart their Christmas shopping.

As the US craze sweeps the UK again for the third year, the city’s shopping centres are preparing to cash in with late night shopping and money off deals.

And despite fights in a London Asda in 2014 over televisions, we are unlikely to see repeats of mass brawls in stores, as happened in America last year, but extra staff and security are being drafted in just in case.

And in many shops and retailers, the shopping spree will span five days to Cyber Monday in order to spread the rush and customer demand.

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Dan Wharton, marketing manager at Trinity Leeds, said: “All of our top brands will be taking part in Black Friday this year with some amazing discounts, many of which will span across the entire weekend.”

“The offers this year are generally ranging between 20% to 50% off RRP and we are gearing up with extra staffing and security to ensure our customers experience a fun-filled event.”

And early indications from the centre this week show there will be an even bigger turn out than last year.

At the Trinity last year there were more than 45,000 visitors to the centre and footfall this year for the same period is already 6% higher. On Black Friday 2015, footfall was 25% higher than an average Friday and sales were up 30% compared to a normal Friday.

Last year the Victoria Quarter saw a 3.1% rise in Black Friday footfall compared to 2014.

And, at the Merrion Centre footfall is also up on the same period for 2015 and centre bosses predict it will be one of the busiest Fridays the centre has seen in its 52 year history.

Helen Green, Associate Director of Town Centre Securities, the centre owner: said: “A lot of our outlets pride themselves on already offering great discounts but there’ll be even more on offer this busy shopping week.

“We’re already starting to see footfall increase with numbers of shoppers already up on the same time last year and by the looks of things this Black Friday is going to be the busiest one the Merrion Centre has ever seen.”

Black Friday originated in Philadelphia on the day after Thanks giving to generate sales during tough economic times.

It grew into a phenomenon, spread across the USA and caught the attention of the UK when it was at its peak between 2010 and 2014.

But, with sales in shop windows seemingly all year round - are the discounts genuine or a trick of the trade.

David Maddison, chairman of the Leeds Chamber retail group and general manager at the Trinity explains: “Last year saw the first time some brands stopped participating in the UK as they realised shoppers were getting “must buy” Christmas gifts with big discounts and then not needing to return when the prices return to RRP.

“For this reason several brands no longer participate preferring to hold on to precious margin rather than selling at reduced prices.

“Goods on offer are genuine discounts as brands look to clear slower selling lines, although on occasions some prior year stocks are added in to boost the available offers.”

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