Consumers expected to go on £1.97 billion Black Friday spending spree

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British consumers are expected to go on a £1.97 billion spending spree today and set a new record for the biggest shopping day of the year.

Retailers are braced for an online and in-store onslaught as they offer up Black Friday deals in the battle for Christmas shoppers, who are facing the threat of steep price hikes in the New Year in the wake of the pound's post referendum slump.

Almost all of the high street's biggest names are embracing the US import this year, with some such as Tesco and John Lewis offering extended opening hours.

All will be hoping that their websites stand up to the volume of traffic after big names such as Argos, Tesco, John Lewis and Boots crashed at peak times last year.

However not everyone is joining in, with Ikea and Next traditionally not participating, and Walmart-owned Asda, which takes the credit for introducing Black Friday to the UK in 2013, pulling out for a second year running, with the explanation that its customers want year-round deals rather than a single day of sales.

It has instead marked the event with a series of "Mannequin Challenge" videos set in store, the first of which spoofs the footage from its Wembley store in 2014, where customers scrapped over bargain TVs.

But experts have pointed to the evolving nature of the event, which has progressed from brawls over cut-price televisions to last year's "muted" high street turnout, with many predicting increased spending online this year.

Some 14 million British consumers are expected to participate in the global shopping event, now the biggest shopping day in the UK, and will spend a predicted total of £1.96 billion, according to VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research.

Online spending on Black Friday is expected to reach £1 billion, up 16% on last year, while it is anticipated that the majority who opt for the High Street will spend a lower total of around £961 million.

It is expected that consumers will spend £5.8 billion over the four days culminating with Cyber Monday.

But consumer group Which? has already warned shoppers to "do your research" after finding that half of last year's deals were cheaper in the months before and after Black Friday, and MoneySavingExpert.com warned customers to watch out for "fool's gold" and compare prices carefully between retailers.

Keith Richardson, managing director retail sector at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: "Everything points to Black Friday being as big as ever this year.

"I doubt we'll see images of customers fighting over TVs again, but only because both retailers and consumers are more savvy about Black Friday now.

"For now at least, shoppers have some money to spend. They have seen little if any impact following the outcome of the EU referendum and know that price rises might be around the corner, since the devaluation of the pound."