Huge Black Friday queue at Costco as lockdown keeps non-essential shops shut

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A huge queue of shoppers snaked around a Costco warehouse on Black Friday as England's national lockdown kept non-essential stores closed.

Video shows customers lining up around the 'members-only' store in Birmingham from 10am as its 'seven days of savings' neared an end.

Marshals appeared to be overseeing the queue from the car park, BirminghamLive reports.

Black Friday shoppers queued in Wales as police were on the lookout for visitors from England who flouted Covid-19 rules by travelling across the border for deals.

Shopping centres and high streets in England were eerily quiet in the morning on a day when they are normally filled with crowds taking advantage of steep discounts.

Click here for our live blog with all the latest Black Friday deals and updates.

Shoppers wait in a queue outside a Costco in Birmingham

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Central London's Oxford Street, the UK's busiest shopping street, was a ghost town as major retailers were forced to remain closed.

At the Costco in Birmingham, Cllr Nicky Brennan, who represents Sparkhill, posted footage on Twitter to show the massive queue of customers she was about to join.

In the video, she is heard laughing and joking "can't wait to join this queue" as she parked up to buy Christmas presents for her charity, Baby Aid Birmingham (BAB).

Ms Brennan said she set up the charity "out of necessity" at the start of the pandemic to help poor young mums who were unable to get nappies and formula milk amid panic buying at supermarkets.

Costco queues in Birmingham on Black Friday

Central London's Oxford Street was a ghost town amid the lockdown
(Image: Jack Dredd/REX/Shutterstock)

Birmingham will be placed in Tier 3, which has the toughest restrictions, when the national lockdown ends on December 2.

With so many UK stores shut on a key sales day in the lead up to Christmas, online retailers expecting their busiest ever Black Friday with a record £7.5billion expected to be blown over the next 48 hours.

It’s set to cost the economy a further £400million as home workers skive off to shop up to 70% off discounts across the web.

Sports Direct, Debenhams and Game are amongst retailers offering up to half price discounts today as the retail rush to Christmas commences.

And with ongoing lockdown restrictions, 16million Brits – three in 10 adults – will shop online, according to a report by Vouchercodes.co.uk.

Sales are expected to trigger a wave of wave of web meltdowns, as shoppers are pushed into virtual queues online.

One study claims British shoppers will spend an average of £350 on Black Friday purchases this year.

One in 10 plan to spend £500, according to a poll by money.co.uk.

There were huge crowds of shoppers in Cardiff city centre
(Image: Gareth Everett/Huw Evans Agency)

Non-essential retail stores in England are shut due to the lockdown
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Clothes, beauty and grooming products, household items and video game consoles are among the most popular items, according to the survey.

Google searches for “Best Black Friday deals” are up 70% on last year as online sales soar due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns.

– “Food processor Black Friday” searches are up 200%. compared with 2019

– Queries for “Gaming chair Black Friday” are up 160%.

– “Black Friday tv deals” up 750%.

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Google research suggests more shoppers were looking for early Black Friday deals this year, and 70% of UK consumers are planning to shop online more than they did in previous years in the closing months of the year.

Ross Davies, director of e-commerce consultants Strafe Creative, said: “Many companies do not have website capacities to meet demand. Websites react to large spikes in traffic and can crash.

“Crashed websites on a day when retailers hoped to make large sales damage sales and the companies' reputations.”

This year, spending peaks are not expected to be the usual morning and evening rush hours – but spread out through the day as workers shop online from home.

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The £1.93bn spree on Friday will easily beat Britain's £1.5billion daily online spending record, set on last year's Cyber Monday, the Monday after the Black Friday weekend.

Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, said: “Black Friday's online spending will see a massive increase on last year, due to most shops being closed.

“A lot of people are working from home and some will spend work time checking prices and making purchases on Black Friday.

“The cost to the economy adds up, even for an hour.”

Dean Hunter of HR consultancy Hunter Adams said: “Some employees will waste working hours shopping online.

Today's £1.93billion web blowout works out at £2.01m-a-minute over the 16 hours most people are awake, beating the previous record £1.56m-a-minute set on last year's Cyber Monday, the VoucherCodes study found.

Over the entire weekend, shoppers are expected to splash £7.5billion online and on the high street.

Amazon was one of the first to start its sales, having launched its deals one month ago.

However, chains such as Next and B&M Bargains have bowed out of the discounts after a tumultuous year.

Research by e-commerce platform EKM has projected that online Black Friday sales will be 53% higher this year.

However, analysts at EY said that sales will be heavily impacted by lockdown restrictions.

Silvia Rindone, EY UK & Ireland retail partner, said: "Once a big event for the retail industry, the reality is that Black Friday's significance has diminished.

"This year, retailers have brought offers forward due to the national restrictions put in place earlier this month so it's unlikely there will be significant new discounts this week.

"Now, retailers need to look beyond festive deals in order to aim for recovery and a positive start to 2021.

"What would have been a 10-year transition from physical to online sales has happened in less than a year, and retailers need to understand and adapt to likely permanent shifts in consumer behaviour."

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