• Tesco to open larger stores at 5am instead of midnight on Black Friday
  • Grocer says it will “ensure colleagues have enough time to set up for the event”
  • Fights broke out in Tesco supermarkets last year and police were called to numerous stores
  • Comes after big four rival Asda pulled the plug on Black Friday in favour of more seasonal deals

Tesco will open its larger stores at 5am instead of midnight on Black Friday this year to allow staff “more time” to prepare for the sales frenzy.

Retail Week can reveal the supermarket giant has made the move to close all of its 250 Extra stores for a five-hour period in a bid to avoid the chaos of the 2014 promotional bonanza.

Police were called to a number of supermarkets overnight last year when scuffles broke out at stores including those in Edmonton, Surrey Quays and Willesden as shoppers fought to get their hands on the best bargains.

Two men were caught on camera exchanging punches in a row over a Blaupunkt TV at a Tesco store in Redditch, Worcestershire.

One store in Manchester had to be closed just 36 minutes after opening owing to fighting, while the Tesco Extra store in the Silverburn area of Glasgow was also forced to temporarily close because of the chaos before a bin was set on fire outside the shop.

South Wales Police also reported receiving a number of calls from staff at Tesco stores after they became “concerned due to the volume of people who had turned up to sale events”.

Customer feedback

It is understood that Tesco has listened to feedback from both staff and colleagues in coming to the decision as it seeks to improve customer service levels on Black Friday and avoid a repeat of last year’s free-for-all. But it is believed the grocer will not be scaling back on the number of deals it runs on the day.

That stance would represent a contrast to its big four rival Asda. Retail Week exclusively revealed that the supermarket giant had radically rethought its Black Friday involvement and was stepping away from the sales phenomenon altogether.

The Walmart-owned grocer, which along with Amazon had become synonymous with the promotional event, is instead investing £26m into seasonal price cuts across November and December.

Like Tesco, Asda was caught up in negative media coverage surrounding last year’s event as shoppers were filmed fighting over heavily discounted flatscreen TVs in its stores.

Asda, which first participated in Black Friday in 2013, said it had “listened carefully” to customer feedback, which showed they did not like the “hustle and bustle” or “pressure” of one- and two-day sales.

The grocer’s decision was always likely to prompt sighs of relief and changes of strategy in boardrooms across the country.

Retail bosses met Black Friday with dismay because of the expectations it created among shoppers of discounting ahead of Christmas and the distortive impact it had on seasonal trading.

Many retailers reported that Black Friday pulled sales forward but did not generate extra revenue, while some websites collapsed under the strain of demand.

A Tesco spokesman said: “Our Black Friday event was incredibly popular last year so to ensure colleagues have enough time to set up for the event this year, we will be closing all participating stores at 12am and reopening them at 5am.

“This change will allow us to provide the best possible service to help our customers.”