Frenzies avoided on Black Friday.
DOZENS of North East shoppers got out of bed early to bag a bargain on Black Friday - but there were no signs of huge crowds outside stores.
Many shops across the region opened their doors early to offer cut-price deals and a large number of customers started queueing up to get in.
However, with many retailers making discounts available online from midnight, scores of bargain hunters chose to shop on the internet instead.
In addition, a number of firms decided to hold Black Friday events during the whole weekend rather than just one day.
At the Tesco store in Kingston Park, Newcastle, up to 100 customers lined up before the shutters were raised at 5am. The supermarket installed queuing systems and assured shoppers there would be enough stock.
And at the Silverlink Retail Park in North Tyneside, there were around 20 people outside Currys PC World at 6am.
Naz Choudhury, 34, owner of the Spice Raj takeaway in Cramlington, was the first in the queue. He had been there since around 4am.
He said: "I was expecting a long queue so I thought I would come early but there were not many people here. I wanted to have a look around for some bargains and see if I could get a TV at a good deal."
Also among the shoppers was Chris Lewin, 23, of Blyth, who said: "I was up early in the morning anyway so we thought we would come and have a look in the shops. I managed to get a 32in TV for PS130, which was good. I bought it as a Christmas present for a relative."
Madelaine Murray, 39, of Seaton Delaval, came away from Currys with an electrical item which she will be giving as a surprise Christmas gift.
She said: "The item I bought was not actually a Black Friday deal, it was at a normal price.
"I thought there would be queues and lots of people about, but there was not much happening."
At Fenwick, in Newcastle, queues formed outside all the store's entrances before it opened its doors at 8am.
Erica Wong, of Shield-field, stood outside from around 7.10am.
The 27-year-old, who works in a Chinese restaurant, said: "I really want a Mulberry bag which Fenwick are selling for more than PS200. Usually it would cost around PS750.
"Last year I was first in the queue here and managed to get a Chanel bag. I would say it was busier for last year's Black Friday; the queue was much longer."
Miriam Wilson, 47, a customer services assistant, of South Shields, popped into Fenwick out of necessity rather than for Black Friday, to buy an umbrella. She said: "I thought there would be long queues all the way down the mall but there was nothing like that. It was quieter. I think Black Friday has been all hype this time. It's clearly not such a big deal for people."
A Metrocentre spokesman said: "After last year many retailers have decided to spread their discounts over a number of days and it is looking like this has had a positive impact on the week, which we anticipate will continue over the weekend."
Retail experts say the lack of long queues on Friday morning should not be taken as a sign that the event was not a success.
Graham Soult, a North East retail consultant, said: "Black Friday has always been and remains an event for online shopping, and a lot of people will have bought products online.
"And retailers are also stretching Black Friday into the weekend, going beyond just the one day.
"For online stores, spreading the load over more than one day is a sensible approach - reducing the risk of website meltdown and delivery companies buckling under the strain.
"After previous glitches, retailers realise by now that a stress-free customer experience and timely ful-filment areas important as the deals themselves.
"Black Friday is an important day for shops - retail is an incredibly important part of the economy and an incredibly important employer. "But equally, we have to support small independent businesses. For this reason, Small Business Saturday will be held on December 5 as an antidote to the excesses of Black Friday - so that smaller retailers have their own day in the limelight."
The Eldon Square Fenwick entrance at 7.45am. Shoppers said the store was less busy than last year
Black Friday advertising was hard to avoid in Newcastle
People determined to get a bargain were gathered outside Currys PC World on the |Silverlink long before daybreak yesterday
Chris Lewin from Blyth got a bargain TV
Madelaine Murray picked up a Christmas gift at the Silverlink, North Tyneside