TODAY is one of the biggest shopping days of the year, with consumers ignoring political and economic uncertainty to splurge billions in a retail bonanza, so how did Black Friday become such a global phenomenon?

It has its roots in the US?

Back in the 1950s in Philadelphia, the term was used to describe the mayhem that took place on the day after Thanksgiving, as thousands of people flooded the city to attend an annual Army-Navy football game. Chaos ensued with crowds, traffic, accidents, shoplifting and sometimes violence. Under-pressure police coined the term “Black Friday”.

Retailers began to capitalise?

Realising there was an abundance of shoppers, stores introduced special offers and Black Friday slowly grew from there.

But they didn’t like the name?

Retailers felt it had negative connotations, reflecting on the first recorded use of the term "Black Friday", which was applied to the financial crisis of 1869 when the US gold market crashed.

Realising that the Friday after Thanksgiving was one of their most profitable days of the year, and that accountants use black to signify when the books record profit, they spun the concept of the day.

Now it’s morphed into a phenomenon?

In the UK alone, shoppers are expected to splash out £2.53 billion today – a record tally that is 3.4 per cent up on last year, according to a report by the Centre for Retail Research. And if you take in the full four days of Black Friday weekend – which also includes Cyber Monday – the amount rockets to £8.57bn.

Britain is the biggest spender?

Spending in the UK is expected to be the highest in Europe – 29 per cent higher than second-highest Germany, with the report predicting Brits will splurge more than Italy, Spain, Belgium and The Netherlands combined. Americans are expected to spend $730bn, with around 165.3 million of them hitting the shops in the US between today and Monday, according to their National Retail Federation.

This is despite warnings about deals?

Consumer watchdog Which? Says its “research has consistently revealed that many products aren't at their cheapest on the big day” and shoppers are advised to do their own research to ensure they are getting good deals.

If you don’t want to queue?

There’s a growing trend in the “gig economy” for people to queue on your behalf – at a price. An app is now available in the United States where you can hire someone to tackle Black Friday chaos for you.

It has spilled over into violence?

Black Friday often sparks scenes akin to its early days in Philadelphia. In 2014, there was chaos across the UK, with confrontations in queues. Incidents included hundreds of people trying to storm a Tesco in Manchester, while Tesco stores at Silverburn in Glasgow and also in Dundee were closed temporarily after shoppers clashed.