A damp day – but not necessarily a damp squib.
That was the general view among traders in Northern Ireland today after the first Black Friday in two years.
Most reported footfall being up on a Friday but the number of people in shops was far from overwhelming.
The hope was that by close of play enough bargain hunters would have taken to the streets to justify the splurge of offers on hand less than a month before Christmas.
But while shoppers were out braving the wind, rain and hailstones, not all of them appeared to be ladened down with bags.
Retail NI boss Glyn Roberts said the bad Black Friday weather wasn’t helping hard-hit traders.
“Black Friday isn’t the big sales date that it once was,” Mr Roberts told the Belfast Telegraph.
“Shopping habits have changed and consumers no longer wait for an annual outing to look for deals.
“The weather is always an important factor and I think we’ll see the biggest surge in spending on Cyber Monday.”
Mr Roberts also said the timing of the Executive’s latest guidance on coronavirus could not have been worse for many on the high street, coming as it does so soon after the Spend Local card scheme which was aimed at getting shoppers back into stores.
“There is clearly a problem with the messaging coming out of Stormont, which doesn’t help,” he said.
Shop managers told this newspaper that footfall was up today when compared with a normal Friday.
But they also pointed out that the surge in shoppers was in keeping with what they normally see when people get paid at the end of the month.
“It’s been a day for buying Christmas presents and using up the last of the money on the Spend local cards,” one store manager said.
“We’ve been steady rather than busy and it’s hard not to think the awful weather hasn’t helped.”
Leading economist Dr Esmond Birnie told the Belfast Telegraph that shoppers in Northern Ireland are expected to spend around £90m on Black Friday deals.
He also said that shops in Northern Ireland “will be hoping for a lot in both Black Friday and Christmas sales” after a “very trying” two years.
Other experts have claimed that this Black Friday could be the biggest one yet but consumers have been warned to expect less generous discounts and shortages of some products in this year's sales.
The annual event, which began in the US, sees retailers slash prices to entice shoppers ahead of the Christmas period.
Analysts PwC predicts about 60% of adults in the UK will make purchases, spending an average of £280 each.
Retail intelligence experts Springboard are forecasting a surge in shopping in Northern Ireland on Black Friday, with footfall expected to rise on the high street, in shopping centres and retail parks.
Not all retailers here, such as clothing giant Next, were participating in Black Friday but many, including fashion boutiques Jack Wills, Jigsaw, Joules, Mango and Fat Face, were trying to entice shoppers with deals of between 25% and 60% off selected items.
Mark Nalder, Head of Payments at Nationwide Building Society, said sales were up by more than a quarter.
“As expected lunchtime saw a peak in spending with more than 1.3 million transactions made between 12 and 2pm – equivalent to around a third of all transactions made so far today.
“The number of transactions are up 26% on last year where lockdown meant many retailers missed out on the lunchtime rush.”
On Friday, protestors gathered at Amazon buildings in the UK, US and Europe, with unions, equality and environmental groups saying Black Friday "epitomises an obsession with over-consumption".
Elsewhere, there were long queues at filling stations after Northern Ireland fuel company Go slashed 20p off its fuel prices.
It came as motorists flocked to sites across the region to avail of the offer which saw petrol and diesel on sale for 119 pence per litre.