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No fisticuffs this time round as shoppers enjoy a more mellow Black Friday

By Claire McNeilly

Published 28/11/2015

Black Friday in Belfast city centre
Black Friday in Belfast city centre
Shoppers David and Caroline Martin
David Rafferty at CS Supplies on Royal Avenue
Shopper Rama Hinds in Victoria Square
Cliodhna Cowan and Ciaran Hughes

It had been billed as the biggest shopping day in the year, with sales expected to hit record levels.

But yesterday, the Black Friday frenzy showed some signs of having slowed down - or at least of having moved online.

City centre stores opened early, but it was 11am before bargain hunters began to descend in earnest.

And unlike last year, when footage of people fighting over TV sets made national headlines, there was no sense of chaos in the shops of Belfast.

Victoria Square, the city's flagship shopping complex, saw a slow start to trading - but those who had turned out in good time took advantage of the many deals on offer.

David Woods (36), a driver from east Belfast, had spent £350 on three items in House of Fraser by 10am.

"I bought a leather jacket, a handbag and a pair of jeans as Christmas presents," he said.

"I came into town because it was Black Friday and I knew exactly what I was going to buy.

"I saved over £100 today because of the price reductions, so I definitely think it was worth it."

Ulster University interior design student Jordan Maxwell, from Carryduff, hit the shops before 9am.

"I deliberately chose to shop on Black Friday because of the bargains," said the 18-year-old.

"I didn't make a list and I've already bought clothes worth £50, so I think I'll probably end up spending another £100 before I'm finished."

Newry couple Cliodhna Cowan (16) and 18-year-old Ciaran Hughes had secured £100-worth of cut-price clothes between them by 10am.

"We came to Belfast today especially to look for bargains but hopefully won't spend too much more," said Cliodhna, a pupil at Sacred Heart Grammar School.

"We haven't even done any Christmas shopping yet; we've just bought things for ourselves."

Warehouse workers Adam Cartmill (23) and 20-year-old Ryan Long were in the market for festive treats.

"I've spent £200 on make-up, perfume, a coat and a pair of boots - that's me done," said Rathcoole man Adam.

His colleague Ryan, from Upper Ardoyne, said that although he hadn't managed to find a lot of bargains, he had saved around £50. "I just came in to see what there is; I don't have a specific list or anything," he said.

"So far I've bought a few Christmas presents and they've cost me £95."

Anna-Marie Trainor, a 32-year-old doctor from Crossgar, said she had popped into some of the high-end stores at Victoria Square before her shift.

"I spent £300 - which is much more than I meant to - but I did save around £100," she said.

"I'm working this afternoon, so I decided to go Christmas shopping beforehand because I knew there would be good deals.

"I mainly knew what I was looking for and there hasn't been any hassle with crowds in the shops, which is a bonus."

Chemical engineering student Hui Li (22, below) admitted that she only had one item on her shopping list - a £300 designer handbag.

"I have been waiting until Black Friday to buy it, because I wanted to get the 30% discount," she said.

Mother-of-two Emma Hinds, a classroom assistant from Hillsborough, said a few of her purchases weren't in the sales. "I came out today because it is Black Friday," the 41-year-old said.

"I have a list in my head, made up mainly of Christmas presents, and I'm working my way through it.

"I've already bought a coat and perfume and I'm not too far off my total, which is £300."

She added: "There are a lot of bargains out there - although I ended up buying some things that weren't reduced."

Argos at William Street, close by Victoria Square, threw open its doors at 6am in anticipation of a Black Friday rush that didn't materialise.

However, sales picked up considerably at around 10am, with scores of people scouring catalogues for deals and special offers. Gerard, one of the sales advisors, said they were expecting thousands of people before the day was out.

"We've been pretty busy for several hours and products are flying off the shelves, so we anticipate doing a lot of business before we close at 11pm," he added.

After buying clothes elsewhere, 43-year-old Geraldine Rosbotham picked up two Playstation games at Argos for £60.

The north Belfast homemaker, who was shopping with sons Leon (16), Tiernan (15), and her 11-month-old granddaughter Olivia, said: "I've saved 50% on the normal price, so I'm very happy with that."

Stay-at-home dad Gareth Vance (43), from east Belfast, said he was Christmas shopping for his daughters, Chloe (11) and three-year-old Morgan, and son Luke, who's six.

"I've just bought a bike, but I'll be making two or three trips into town and I expect to spend £300 before the day is out," he said.

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