It’s 7.45am on Black Friday at Bluewater and the stores open early today – in just 15 minutes. But hold on, where is everybody?

Black Friday 2016 would appear to be an online phenomena if this is anything to go by.

Slowly but surely people begin to trickle in but by 9.00am it is still very muted, other than the re-opening of H&M which has created quite a buzz.

H&M’s bosses were there and although they say they don’t disclose footfall figures, they expect it “to be significantly increased”.

Fat Face were a little more forthcoming, although they choose not to participate in Black Friday, preferring to “donate rather than discount”.

The store manager there told me she expects more than double the usual footfall for a Friday.

“We don’t do Black Friday, sir”

Hugo boss store employee

Fat Face is not alone in shunning this US import, other notable retailers preferring not to participate include Nike, Hugo Boss (“we don’t do Black Friday sir”) and of course Next.

But of the majority who are, it very much depends on where you look. 15% good enough? Go to Charles Tyrwhitt, 20% grab your attention? Plenty to choose from including TM Lewin, The White Company and Ann Summers but the majority used the same attention grabber “up to 50% off” offer and often only on certain lines.

It’s a very British affair, as if Black Friday has become somehow too vulgar for our nation’s sensitivities

No pushing, no shoving – it all seems like a very British affair, as if Black Friday has become somehow too vulgar for our nation’s sensitivities.

I asked a Bluewater security guard if it was any busier than normal; “slightly” came the response.

But the big question remains, are retailers really doing enough to tempt us to part with our hard earned cash or are we now conditioned to expect much more attractive bargains?

On the evidence of Bluewater today, we’re holding out for more.

  • Andrew Busby is founder of Retail Reflections and The Retail Advisory Board