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Sales hope after Black Friday chaos

Britain's retailers are hoping for further strong sales over the weekend after the frenzy of Black Friday saw crowds of thousands descend on stores.

Police had to step in to break up fights that erupted in the aisles of supermarkets offering huge price cuts on the annual promotions day, a phenomenon originating in the United States which has emerged as one of Britain's busiest shopping days.

Asda is among the retailers extending the offers today after more than 2 million people visited its stores yesterday, sparking chaos and violence in some branches over discounted TVs.

Online retailers are now preparing their systems for similar success on 'Cyber Monday', another American consumer sales event adopted by the UK.

Huge demand saw shoppers struggling to access the websites of Tesco Direct, Currys, Argos and GAME yesterday.

One of Britain's most senior police officers criticised retailers for their handling of the crowds which threatened to cause crushes and urged retailers to work with police in further sales events.

At least three people were arrested and a woman was hurt after being hit by a falling television, while some outlets were forced to shut to restore order.

Eyewitnesses described how bargain-hunters behaved "like animals" and likened scenes to "a war zone".

Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, whose force appealed to shoppers to "keep calm", said the events were "totally predictable" and that he was "disappointed stores did not have sufficient security staff on duty".

"This created situations where we had to deal with crushing, disorder and disputes between customers," he said.

" It does not help that this was in the early hours when police resources are already stretched.

"Across Greater Manchester large supermarkets already make significant demands on policing through calls to shoplifting, anti-social behaviour and thefts of fuel from their petrol stations - much of which is preventable.

"We just ask these stores to work with us to reduce the demands on policing and reduce the risks of disorder and crime."

After Metropolitan police were called to three Tesco branches in London following reports of large crowds in Edmonton, Willesden and Surrey Quays, Sergeant Paul Marshall said on Twitter: "Even on Black Friday shoving people to the floor so you can get £20 off a coffee maker is still an assault."

Meanwhile Amazon.co.uk celebrated its busiest ever day, saying Black Friday had "surpassed all expectations" .

The online retailer recorded orders for more than 5.5 million goods, with around 64 items sold per second.

Retailers are hoping for further strong sales over the weekend after the excitement of Black Friday saw crowds of thousands descend on stores.

Last year's Black Friday was also a record day for Amazon.co.uk, when it sold more than four million items.

But the record was surpassed on Cyber Monday 2013, when more than 4.1 million items were ordered at a rate of around 47 purchases per second.

The retailer hopes to repeat its success this coming Monday by r eleasing new offers every 10 minutes.

Vice President of EU Retail at Amazon, Xavier Garambois, said: "Ever since we introduced Black Friday to the UK in 2010, sales have increased year on year but this year really has surpassed all of our expectations.

"The public's appetite for Black Friday has been bigger than ever, kicking off the Christmas shopping period in earnest and establishing Black Friday as a fixture on the UK Christmas shopping calendar."

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