Drivers cursing, shoppers queuing, tills ringing... it must be Boxing Day

Sales records fall across the country as fears of a quiet Christmas prove unfounded

Shoppers queued all night, traffic was brought to a standstill, car-parks overflowed and the police were even called in to maintain order as Boxing Day sales fever gripped Britain.

Sales records tumbled as cash tills rang across the country, with shoppers hoping to secure bargains as prices were cut by up to 75 per cent. Fears of consumers tightening their belts in the face of tough economic conditions were quickly shelved, with an estimated 10 million shoppers believed to have spent about £2.9bn.

While it was also the biggest day for consumers staying home and shopping online, thousands headed for their nearest high street. In the first three hours of trading, footfall was up by more than a fifth on last year, according to the research company Springboard.

The numbers shopping in Cambridge rose by more than 46 per cent on a year earlier, while the biggest rise came in Northampton, where activity was more than 50 per cent higher. Thousands headed to London’s Oxford Street, with one of its most famous department stores, Selfridges, enjoying the most successful first hour of trade in its history, raking in £1.5m.

A queue of more than 2,500 people had snaked around the perimeter of the famous building by the time it opened its doors at 9am, with 250 security guards brought in to keep those pouring through the doors under control. The store expected the number of customers to hit 250,000 yesterday.

Experts predicted London’s West End would see a total of 800,000 shoppers by the end of the day, with the total sum spent predicted to hit £50m, driven up by international bargain-hunters.

There was also a spike in customers from the Middle East, China and Nigeria, but many other nationalities were represented. The London Underground strike failed to dampen enthusiasm in the capital, although it did contribute to traffic chaos around the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush and delayed the nearby Premiership game between QPR and West Bromwich Albion.

Westfield’s sites were swamped, with escalators overflowing and shops such as Next forced to create their own traffic-management system inside.

Queues began to form outside the huge Bluewater shopping centre in Kent at 1am yesterday, with a queue of 3,000 waiting by 7am. General manager Robert Goodman said it was “certainly one of the busiest starts ever”.

In Essex, the Lakeside Shopping Centre, whose car park overflowed on to the road obstructing the traffic, brought in staff from 3am. Manchester’s Trafford Centre had the biggest Boxing Day sale in its history with 20,000 people arriving by 8am. The operators of the complex were forced to draft in police to keep order.

Boxing day sales: The rush for great deals

“We came to Kensington to avoid the crowds”

Kathy Wong, 19, Leicester

“I live in Leicester and I came down to London to shop in the sales. We decided to try and avoid the crowds this year so we headed for High Street Kensington and it has been pretty good. We went to Oxford Street two years ago and that was pretty chaotic. We also went round Westfield which has similar chaos. I am going to come back again next year but probably here.”

“If I had my way I would be still in bed”

 Percy Lemdrum, 22, London

“The centre of town is far too busy, we wanted to go to the sales somewhere it was a bit quieter. If I had my way I would be still in bed, but my younger brother wanted to go shopping early. To be honest we have managed to get everything we needed without too much fuss, and the deals were pretty good. I got everything from socks to protein shakes.”

“We wanted to experience the sales”

Giulia Casarin, 23, Brazil, pictured, & Bianca Babick, 23, Brazil

“They have great sales in London on Boxing Day and we wanted to experience them. We wanted to buy all of our skiing gear for a holiday. In Brazil, there is no snow, so to buy skiing equipment is really expensive. We are very happy about what we’ve been able to pick up and are about to head to Oxford Street. We hope it’s not too crowded.”

“Oxford Street is hell on earth on Boxing Day”

Edward Middleton, 72, English national living in Paphos, Cyprus

“We have done pretty well today and avoided most of the shopping rush. I would not dream of going to Oxford Street, it is just hell on earth on Boxing Day. I’ve made that mistake before and I certainly won’t be returning. We are looking to buy some shoes in the sales; I’ve called my wife Imelda Marcos, so that gives you some indication of the scale.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own