Boxing Day sales a queue for stampede of bargain hunters
Morning rush proves tradition still popular
Bargain hunters were out in force on the streets of Belfast yesterday proving that, despite increasing online activity, the Boxing Day tradition remains popular.
However across the UK, early figures have shown a 10% drop in the overall number of visits to shops, which has been attributed to cold weather and online shopping.
Spending had been tipped to hit £217 per person, or £2.17bn in total across the UK.
Many stores launched their sales online as early as Christmas Eve and Britons were expected to have spent £636m online on Christmas Day.
In London, queues began to form outside Selfridges at 10.30pm on Christmas Day.
In Belfast, the earliest queues started at around 2.30am on Boxing Day, mainly focused around the Next shop on Donegall Place.
One Belfast woman posted online that she arrived at 3am and was only sixth in the queue.
Later yesterday morning, Next remained busy with extra staff brought in to help with the rush.
Saffron West, mother of three-year-old twin boys Eli and Antoine, picked up several bargains in the kidswear section.
"At 3am, we were still sleeping," she laughed. "I still managed to find some bargains coming in later, but the challenge with twins is being able to find two of everything for both of them."
At around midday, there was a healthy surge of shoppers browsing in Belfast City Centre, with Corn Market, Victoria Square and Donegall Place among the busiest locations.
Lush Cosmetics was one of the latest stores to open, at noon yesterday. Sara Cook, originally from the United States, was first in the queue.
She revealed that she does not usually shop very much but makes an exception for the Lush sale, which she comes to every Boxing Day with friends.
"I actually hate shopping," she laughed. "I only come for Lush because it is all 50% off so I stock up for the rest of the year. It's a tradition, I come down with my friend, we get coffee and then go to the Lush sale."
Sara has been living in Northern Ireland for 13 years now and said she sees the sales pattern as becoming more like that in America.
"Things are definitely moving more towards the US tradition where there are three big shopping days, not just one. There is the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, the day after Christmas and New Year's Day," she said.
"I have noticed that, where it used to be mainly focused on one big sale on Boxing Day, there are now more sales here."
Most female shoppers that the Belfast Telegraph spoke to were delighted with the bargains they had netted, but many of the men felt disappointed there did not seem to be as much on offer for them.
Melanie Agnew from Greenisland managed to get a pair of boots reduced from £160 to £80, while Lisa Doran from Loughinisland got an even bigger bargain, with shoes reduced from £99 to £25.
But many men were left buying items full price. Craig Cruise from Bangor bought a pair of trousers from Ted Baker that he'd had his eye on, for full price; he had hoped they might have been reduced. And teenagers Lewis Todd and David Cavan, also from Bangor, felt the sales had been over-hyped, leaving them disappointed.
David Spiers and Adam Lavery from Belfast summed up the feelings of most men, saying they felt the best bargains had been in the women's sections of the shops.