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Bargain hunters out in force early for Boxing Day sales

Shoppers are set for hefty discounts with prices slashed just one day after Christmas.

Stores have swapped their festive windows for huge signs promising hefty discounts (Jane Barlow/PA)
Stores have swapped their festive windows for huge signs promising hefty discounts (Jane Barlow/PA)

Boxing Day bargain hunters were up early queuing outside stores as the post-Christmas sales saw prices slashed by as much as 70%.

December 26 is the most popular day to shop during the Christmas sales period, according to Barclaycard, with three in 10 people planning to take advantage of the deals.

Footfall in London’s West End was up 15% on last year by 10.30am as stores swapped their festive windows for huge signs promising hefty discounts.

Shoppers queued outside stores around the country before first light, and people were pictured inside with armfuls of half price clothes, while more than half a million people are expected to descend on central London.

Jace Tyrrell, chief executive at New West End Company, representing businesses in Bond Street, Oxford Street and Regent Street, said: “In London’s West End we have seen a Boxing Day bounce, with footfall up 15% this morning.

“International tourists are out in force driven by the weaker pound, as well as domestic shoppers who are looking for a day out after family celebrations yesterday.

“We’re on track for a £50 million spend today, which will rise to a total figure of £2.5 billion for the critical Christmas trading period.

“It has been a competitive and challenging year for UK retail with rising costs and squeezed profit margins. As the largest private sector employer in the country, we need the Government to get beyond Brexit and support Britain’s retail sector in 2019.”

Boxing Day still remains a key shopping day – twice as much money was spent on Boxing Day than Black Friday last year – while the period between Christmas Day and New Year generated £12 billion in sales, according to ShopperTrak.

High street retailers had already cut prices after trading on the busiest shopping day of the year, dubbed “Super Saturday”, failed to lure shoppers to stores.

It has been a torrid year for retailers with notable high street names such as Poundworld and Maplin falling into administration, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams announcing plans to shutter stores, while Superdry, Carpetright and Card Factory issued profit warnings.

High street retailers have been battling higher costs, low consumer confidence as shoppers rein in spending amid Brexit uncertainty and people increasingly shop online rather than visit bricks-and-mortar stores.

John Lewis shoppers will not even have to wait until Boxing Day, with clearance having already started online at 5pm on Christmas Eve.

The sales will start in most shops on Thursday December 27 but its stores in the Trafford Centre, Heathrow and St Pancras are open on Boxing Day.

Debenhams is starting its sale online and in stores on Boxing Day, and will continue with the deals until the New Year.

However, the department store has been running significant sales before Christmas even arrived, with up to 50% off on designer womenswear and beauty and fragrance.

Tech giant Currys PC World is set to slash its prices, with last year’s deals including bargains on laptops, TVs, washing machines and fridge freezers.

Samsung TVs were reduced by £700 and the price of the Lenovo IdeaPad was slashed by £220.

High street stalwart M&S is offering up to 50% off for Boxing Day shoppers.

Don Williams, retail partner at KPMG in the UK, said: “Since Black Friday hit UK shores back in 2013, the festive sales period hasn’t quite been the same.

“Indeed, previous KPMG analysis did highlight that the discount bonanza in November cannibalised the traditional Christmas shopping period, bringing sales forward and twisting retailers’ arms to discount for longer.

“With this year’s Black Friday being a bit of a damp squib, many could be forgiven for hoping that would have benefited post-Christmas sales, including Boxing Day.

“But, for the vast majority, that is unlikely. Most will still have their work cut out to persuade shoppers who have notably been clawing back their spend.

“But for those retailers stocking must-have brands, there is still plenty to play for in the final festive push.”

David Pierotti, general manager at Silverburn shopping centre in Glasgow, said: “Attracted by the thrill and discounts available, Scots are continuing to take the sales seriously with early birds queuing outside Next from 3am this morning with Zara also proving to be incredibly popular with our shoppers today.”

Ryan Manson, general manager at Union Square in Aberdeen, said there has been a lot of demand for its cinema and restaurants on Boxing Day, adding: “There’s been several big new film releases recently, including Mary Poppins Returns, Aquaman, and Spiderman into the Spider-Verse, which are proving a major draw.”

Myf Ryan, chief marketing officer Europe and group director of brand and strategic marketing for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, which owns the Westfield London and Stratford City shopping centres, said: “Boxing Day is always one of our peak trading days and has got off to a very busy start with over 50,000 people through doors by 10am this morning.”

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