Record sales bargains attract record turnout

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The Independent Online
Britons had barely digested their turkey before they started queueing outside stores in order to get a headstart in the sales. From 6am yesterday - three hours before stores opened - consumers were standing on pavements preparing to descend on the biggest January sales in years. It was a record turnout, for record reductions.

The House of Fraser department store in Glasgow usually expects around two dozen early birds. "There were around 60 shoppers and we had to open all our doors instead of just the usual main door," a spokesman said. "A lot of our merchandise has discounts of up to 50 per cent," Card holders will receive an extra 10 per cent off purchases.

Marks & Spencer, BHS and Habitat are among those who start their sales today. Thomson's, Britain's largest tour operator, is also having a sale from today, with savings of up to pounds 100 per person for summer holidays booked in January. Those wanting to bargain hunt at Harrods will have to wait until 7 January, when the singer Cher will launch the sale.

At the new branch of Furnitureland, in Manchester, which opened for the first time yesterday, the atmosphere was "absolutely heaving", with shoppers pouring into the store at 10am prompt. Transactions were not just on interest-free credit either, according to Roger Handley, the store's marketing director. "There's definitely a lot of cash credit around," he said. Among the most popular purchases there was a 6ft wide bed reduced from pounds 999 to pounds 499, with an additional pounds 50 knocked off because it is being sold a new store.

Keen gardeners in Bristol queued for an hour outside the department store, Gardiner Haskins, to beat the rush to the popular seed stand. Packs of vegetable and flower seeds had been reduced from around pounds 3 to just 15p. Allan Weeks, 57, a van driver at the front of the queue, said: "I have come here every year for four years.It is like an annual pilgrimage."

The Bristol branch of Curry's had knocked up to pounds 200 off computers, pounds 120 off fridges and pounds 100 off video recorders. Sony Playstation computer game consoles are so popular that they did not have to be reduced. "We had totally sold out before Christmas, but now we have restocked and they are in such demand we don't need to put them in the sales," said deputy manager, John O'Connor. Several stores carried notices from Sony apologising for the lack of stock.