Black Friday; the annual sales event when shops slash their prices has hit Festival Place, with mixed reactions from shoppers.

The event, popularised in America to signify the start of Christmas shopping after Thanksgiving, has slowly taken the UK by storm with the majority of large retailers offering the deals.

When the Gazette visited town today, many shoppers said they were unaware that it was Black Friday, despite the busy nature of the shopping centre.

READ MORE: We enjoyed a festive day out in Festival Place and this is why you should too

“I forgot it was Black Friday,” said Daniel Woolley

“We just happened to be out shopping for other bits and pieces, not because it’s Black Friday. Daniel forgetting says everything," added Alex Whiteman.

Basingstoke Gazette: Alex Whiteman and Daniel Woolley

Another shopper, who didn’t want to be named, said: “I would usually do Black Friday online.”

Rod and Jenny Edbrooke, owners of local, family-owned brewery Longdog, said: “We don’t do Black Friday as a small business.

"We used to do Colourful Friday, where instead of cutting prices we supported a food bank on the day. Now we support local charities across the year instead. There isn’t enough of a profit margin for us.”

Basingstoke Gazette: Jenny and Rod Edbrooke

Kimberley Job said: “We usually come out shopping for Black Friday on Saturday/Sunday. "

"We both had some time off today, which is why we are out on the Friday," added Rabia Kabir Begum

Basingstoke Gazette: Rabia Kabir Begum and Kimberley Job

“It was just a coincidence!” said Alexa Moura.

“It’s Black Friday?” added Susana Matos. “I was wondering why it was so busy.”

Basingstoke Gazette: Alexa Moura and Susana Matos

“We were just out Christmas shopping," said Janey Lowth

Barry Jenkinson added: "Then we saw how busy the shops were, and realised it was Black Friday.”

Despite Basingstoke's lethargy, this year’s Black Friday could be the “busiest ever” as shoppers shake off cost-of-living woes to make the most of festive deals, spending data revealed.

Nationwide Building Society said that sales volumes on Friday show people have been making more purchases than this time last year.

By 5pm, customers had made 6.66 million transactions – 11 per cent higher than a typical Friday and three per cent more than Black Friday last year.

The latest data also means spending is 12 per cent more than the same day in 2021, Nationwide said.

Mark Nalder, director of payment strategy at Nationwide, said the morning’s purchase data “suggests that this year’s Black Friday is going to be the busiest one ever”.

“The early evening typically sees a post-work peak in Black Friday spending as people head to the shops after work or search for the best deals online while relaxing at home,” Mr Nalder added.

“Despite cost-of-living pressures, shoppers are making the most of the deals on offer and grabbing a bargain.”

Analysts MRI Software said data up to 3pm showed footfall across all UK retail destinations was up 8.2 per cent compared to the week before.

Retailers have launched sales and shopping deals hoping to lure in shoppers with discounted prices in the run-up to Christmas.

Electricals chain Currys said sales of some of its tech products have more than doubled this month as it rolled out new deals.

Strong demand for games consoles saw sales jump by 131 per cent in recent weeks, compared with average weekly sales over the previous six weeks, amid the launch of new video game Call of Duty – which it said was already a Black Friday bestseller.

Beauty tools have soared by 190 per cent, coffee machines up by 105 per cent, and air fryer sales up by 75 per cent over the same period, Currys revealed.

Meanwhile, banking group Barclays revealed that the volume of purchases leading up to Black Friday was higher than this time last year, as retailers continue to launch sales earlier in the month.

Data from the firm, which processes nearly half of the UK’s credit and debit card transactions, showed spending volumes were up 1.4 per cent in the week to Wednesday compared with the equivalent week last year.

Marc Pettican, the head of payments at Barclaycard, told the PA news agency: “Black Friday is no longer a single day… we start to see changes in behaviours throughout the whole month of November as retailers start to discount earlier.”

The sales season is also not just a “retail phenomenon”, with other industries including hospitality and travel taking advantage of increased demand.

“What we’ve been seeing more generally is people spending more on essential items than they are discretionary,” Mr Pettican said. 

“In a world where you’ve got rising interest rates and inflation, I think people are definitely looking to get a bargain.”

Supermarkets like Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer also launched new savings on Black Friday across their food, clothing and homeware brands, while Amazon has deals across its website for a week.