Shoppers queue from 2am to hit the sales

The Boxing Day sales are underway.  Pic: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
The Boxing Day sales are underway. Pic: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
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Bargain hunters began queuing in the early hours of the morning as the post-Christmas sales got underway, although one survey suggests those queues may have been a little shorter this year.

Boxing Day shoppers started gathering at Meadowhall in Sheffield as early as 2am, four hours before the shops opened in anticipation of cut price offers, with Britons expected to spend a total of £3.85bn during the course of the day - though much of that, some £900m, was expected to be spent online.

Jewellery was popular at Meadowhall, as well as Nerf guns, Hatchimals and Lego Star Wars, the shopping centre’s director Darren Pearce said.

The Broadway shopping complex in Bradford city centre reported busy trade.

General manager Ian Ward said: “The Broadway is on course to exceed one million shoppers in the month of December.

“The shopping centre was incredibly busy throughout the Christmas shopping period, exceeding our expectations with a significant rise in footfall compared to Christmas 2015.”

Victoria Leeds reported a turnout of thousands of shoppers. Queues began to form at 7am outside Harvey Nichols, Aspinal and Michael Kors, and the crowds are expected to be even bigger today for the start of John Lewis’ sale.

A quarter of Britons - 23 per cent - were forecast to brave the blustery conditions in order to hit the sales, down from 32 per cent last Boxing Day, according to Barclaycard.

The drop suggests the incentive to buy in the sales has been weakened by widespread discounting, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, that continued well into December.

Retail analyst Richard Hyman said: “Sales used to be used to clear stock. That’s a thing of the past. Now there is a permanent sale.”