High streets in the UK have been overflowing as boxing day sales lured shoppers out of the house with some of the biggest discounts in years.
Queues even formed overnight outside department stores in Oxford Street and Westfield shopping mall in Stratford with bargain-hunters looking to nab the best deals ahead of the crowds.
Pictures from department store Selfridges revealed jam-packed crowds more reminiscent of a music festival than a day out to the shops. The high-end department store was offering 70 per cent discounts on a huge variety of goods.
At Harrods shoppers were treated to red carpet for queueing, complimentary mince pies and even a serenade from a string quartet.
Queues formed outside Westfield from as early as 10:30pm on Christmas Day. The store said it was expecting 150,000 people to pass through its doors today.
Myf Ryan, director at Westfield, said:
Last year we had queues out of the door on Boxing Day by 5am, retailers like Next and Zara experienced record sales and 360,000 shoppers visited our two centres on the day.
This year we expect an exceptionally busy day yet again, fuelled by excellent retail offers and special deals with over 50% off by many of our 600 retailers.
Retailers will also have experienced big demand from the more couch-bound among us.
Over £500,000 is expected to be spent every minute online, contributing to a total spend of around £748m according to retail group IMRG and Experian. Their research said retail websites could anticipate a 29 per cent increase in visits to 167m.
Many websites began online sales on the day before Christmas Eve, hoping to attract shoppers throughout the Christmas period.
Over £1.3bn was spent on 23 December, making it the biggest retail day of the year. The spree even continued on Christmas Day when IMRG and Experian said around £636m would be spent.
John Lewis said customers made the most of any new tablets or smartphones, which accounted for the company’s biggest Christmas Day ever.
Mark Lewis, online director at John Lewis, said:
We know that customers quickly switch from Christmas shopping to bargain hunting and we’re thrilled to see a good start to this year’s clearance online.
We expect customers to continue to log on throughout today [Boxing Day] to take advantage of the thousands of offers we have available and then from tomorrow, browse in-store as our shops across the country reopen their doors.
The bonanza is expected to contribute to a record year for retail sales in the UK. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills says 2014 sales will reach around £342bn - a £48bn increase on 2010.