Frenzy of last-minute shopping
Millions of Christmas shoppers have hit the stores in a frenzy of last-minute buying.
In what was expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year, millions of pounds of sales were anticipated to keep tills ringing until late.
Heavy discounts were advertised at many stores and some were due to stay open until 11pm to squeeze the most out of the pre-Christmas rush.
London's West End was heaving and hectic scenes were reported across Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street. Early bird shoppers queued outside John Lewis, Hamleys and Marks & Spencer before doors opened, keen to beat the crowds.
A spokesman for the New West End Company, which represents 600 retailers across the three famous shopping streets, said it was even busier than anticipated, adding that about 70% of the shoppers appeared to be men who had left their gift-buying to the 11th hour.
"We expect one million shoppers today and tomorrow through the West End stores, spending £100 million in total," he said.
Stores were offering discounts of up to 60%, with Gap, House of Fraser, French Connection and Debenhams among those selling cut-price items, the spokesman said.
Thousands of shoppers were also expected to descend on Manchester's Trafford Centre, where more than 600 buses have been arriving every day to deliver shoppers from all over the north of England.
At Bluewater shopping centre in Kent, total footfall between December 20 and 23 was expected to be around 750,000.
Meanwhile e-retail association Interactive Media in Retail Group forecast that consumers would spend £186.4 million online on Christmas Day, with the Boxing Day spend expected to be almost double that at £367.8 million. These estimates were said to represent a 12% increase on the total spends last year.