Black Friday is firmly establishing itself as an online phenomenon, but London’s West End retailers were still anticipating a strong day of sales.

According to the New West End Company retailers were bracing for around £115.5m of sales, up 5% on last year and accounting for 1.25% of total annual sales.

Retailers have extended their opening hours to cash in on bargain-hungry shoppers, with Debenhams opening at 7am and remaining open until 11pm. 

However, when Retail Week arrived on Oxford Street bright and early this morning the atmosphere was subdued – the iconic shopping street appeared less busy than it does on a normal Saturday and was positively mellow in comparison with the packed stores we see in the run-up to Christmas.

Nevertheless, the shoppers that were braving the bricks-and-mortar experience had a steely-eyed determination.

Last shop before Christmas

For many, Black Friday had replaced their Christmas shopping – customers had come with lists of what they were buying and where they were buying from, with several consumers saying this was the last shopping spree they intended to have this year.

“I’m here today because I never shop online – I like to see and touch something before I spend my money on it.”

Desiree, 45, shopper in London

Shoppers were also very clued up on price – the majority had done the research on what the items they wanted to buy online in advance and had come to stores to ensure they got the best possible deal.

There was a healthy dose of cynicism about how much a bargain Black Friday actually represented for consumers.

Loyalty in bargain hunting

Several shoppers stressed that they would not deviate from their usual retail haunts, where they already knew what the prices were and would by extension know they were getting a genuinely good deal.

Nevertheless, the bricks-and-mortar shopping experience had proved a draw. for many shoppers that had travelled from across the country to snap up bargains and the occasional consumer could be seen roaming Oxford Street with a suitcase in tow to pack with deals.

Here’s a look at what shoppers on Oxford Street had to say about Black Friday and why they’d take the trek to the West End rather than shopping online:

Desiree, 45, London

“I’m getting presents for all my nieces and nephews and a few treats for myself. This is my Christmas shopping, I come every year to get Black Friday deals.

“Most retailers I don’t trust – I go to places that I would normally shop and know the prices so I know I’m not being conned with a bad deal.

“I will buy things I wouldn’t normally buy though, if the price is right. I’m after a Dyson vacuum cleaner today and a new watch as well.

“I’m here today because I never shop online – I like to see and touch something before I spend my money on it.”

Jenny, 23, Cornwall

“This is my Christmas shopping, I’ve come up from Cornwall for the weekend to do it.

“I’m getting make-up products, shoes and presents for my family and I’m going to the big retailers: John Lewis, Selfridges, House of Fraser and Harvey Nichols.

“I know some prices are brought up and slashed down again form the day, but if you keep an eye out there are some good deals.

“I’m not totally sold on it though – I’m not that naïve.”

Gwen, 45, London

“I’ve come to meet a friend who works in a department store here so I can use her discount on top of Black Friday offers.

“I’m buying nothing for Christmas after this – I came to buy, I have a list and I’ve got everything on it today.

“I had an absolute field day last year and the deals are alright, so I came knowing what I was going to buy.”

Queenie, 55, Kent

“I came up from Kent this morning because I remembered it was Black Friday. I know it’ll be rammed by lunchtime because the trains were absolutely packed.

“This is the start of my Christmas shopping – I’m looking for good deals and it has to be a genuine bargain.

“I hate shopping online, if you’re 20 I’m sure you would but I don’t have the patience so I would rather be here and shop practically.

“I had a list but I lost it so I’m winging it. I’ve just bought two speakers for my godson at a big reduction – I sincerely hope it’s not a con job but I could be stitched up.”

Katie, 27, London and Carly, 25, Glasgow

“We’ve come to the high street for the experience, and because we’re looking for electronics we want the expertise of people in store.

“We got a TV and speakers but it’s not Christmas shopping, we’ve come for the novelty of it and to see what bargains there are.

“The deals are so-so, some of the discounts aren’t as big as we thought they’d be.

“We knew what we were getting from John Lewis and what we got it for is the same price as it’s been online all week.”