RETAILERS are waiting to see whether Black Friday deals drive shoppers to the beleaguered high street tomorrow.

The American-inspired shopping event prompted near-hysteria five years ago as shoppers turned up early in the morning to fight for massively discounted TV sets and other bargains.

But subsequent years have seen many shoppers hunt Black Friday bargains online instead. Marks and Spencer is among those turning their back on the whole idea.

Bournemouth-based Beales is investing heavily in Black Friday, offering further discounts from tomorrow until Monday on products which are already being offered substantially below their recommended price.

When its stores open at 8.30am, the first 200 customers will be issued with gift cards already loaded with spending money.

Chief executive and owner Tony Brown said: “We’re giving away free money. Each store will be given 200 gift cards. One gift cards has £200 and the others have dominations from £1 to £20.”

Among the bargains will be a Nespresso machine which normally retails at £179.99 and had already been reduced to £89.99, now selling at £69. A buffet server with a recommended price of £59.99 will go for £17.99, while a Kitchen aid mixer worth £399 will cost £199.99. Among other offers, all Lego will sell for 20 per cent off.

“We don’t make any money on some of these lines – they’re loss leaders,” said Mr Brown.

“I think it’s about anything that generates interest and gets people into the stores, increases our footfall – and we can then sell them other things if we’ve got the right products.”

He added: “Every line we’ve put on, we can guarantee at the point we put it on, it will be the cheapest price in the UK. That includes online.”

Earlier this week, Which? said that only one in 20 Black Friday deals were cheaper during the sales event than at other times of the year.

It looked at deals from retailers including Currys PC World, Amazon and John Lewis, tracking prices from six months before Black Friday to the six months afterwards. It claimed only four products out of 83 were cheaper on Black Friday.

Black Friday comes after a bruising year for high street retailers, with chains such as Mothercare going out of business and others – including Debenhams and House of Fraser – looking for support from creditors.

But a survey by the CBI found some hope, with sales “broadly unchanged” in November after six months of falls. The industry was still in decline, but was expected to see growth in December.