Black Friday online sales race to £1bn, but Belfast shoppers brave rain to bag their bargains
Forget Black Friday - grey skies and incessant rain made it a very bleak Friday indeed yesterday.
And it certainly was a day for shopping online: Currys PC World reported eight sales per second and said it was selling 30 televisions every minute via the internet.
Meanwhile, eBay said more than nine million people were expected to visit its website as experts predicted it would be the UK's first £1bn online shopping day.
But bargain hunters who braced the elements did so in festive spirits -and with plenty of money.
A straw poll of shoppers by the Belfast Telegraph found that individuals were prepared to spend anything between £100 and £750 on a Black Friday blitz.
By early lunchtime, Debenhams in CastleCourt shopping centre in Belfast was thronged with customers.
Last year's scenes of bargain-hunters wrestling over discounted goods in other stores were not repeated there, but there was a definite buzz among the shoppers.
Newsagent Jan McWilliams (63), from Donaghadee, was helping her 22-year-old granddaughter Yasmin McWilliams look for deals. "I've already spent £400 on clothes, games, jewellery and toys and now I'm looking for smaller Christmas gifts," said Yasmin.
"I have a list of items but I have to admit there has been some impulse buying and I expect to spend about £600 today.
"It's the first time I've been shopping on Black Friday and I would have to say I think it's worth doing for all the deals."
Saintfield couple David and Caroline Martin, who have two sons, Toby (5) and three-year-old Josh, said they were taking advantage of the sales.
"I started shopping online last night actually," said Caroline, a 42-year-old marketing executive.
"Last year I waited until December to buy things and then I ended up paying full price for everything so I didn't want to make the same mistake again - not when you can get up to 50% off some items today."
David (38), who works in IT, added: "We're not looking for anything specific, but I'm sure we'll end up spending about £750 on Christmas presents."
Meanwhile, father-of-one David Rafferty (22), whose partner is expecting their second child, said he was delighted to have finally got his hands on a 40 inch LED Samsung TV for £249 - down from £329 at CS Suppliers on Royal Avenue.
"Every penny counts in our house, so I've been biding my time," the delivery man said.