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Britons spend Boxing Day... spending

Shoppers defied the cold and a Tube strike in London to splash the cash, as some shopping centres boasted their busiest Sunday of the year. But laws restricting retailers to six hours of trading caught out many people.

Analysts expect much higher sales today, with extended openings and major chains such as John Lewis and Next kicking off their clearance sales.

After the snow hampered festive trading, retailers have rolled out an avalanche of hefty discounts to get consumers spending ahead of VAT rising to 20 per cent on 4 January. The British Retail Consortium expects consumers to spend £5bn between Boxing Day and New Year's Eve.

Two of the biggest shopping centres reported a roaring start to clearance sales. Milton Keynes said that by 1pm footfall had already beaten this year's previous Sunday high by 143 per cent, while Bluewater expected 100,000 visitors. Some queued for 12 hours to get into London's Selfridges, which expected 80,000 visitors yesterday.

Meanwhile, a 26-year-old man was arrested after a 19-year-old man was shot in Birmingham's Bullring centre yesterday afternoon.