Shoppers and retailers prepare for Boxing Day sales

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The Independent Online

Retailers in the the United Kingdom, Canada and parts of Australia are gearing up for a busy weekend that kicks off with Boxing Day on December 26.

Heavy discounting is expected as retailers aim to clear unsold Christmas inventories, with many stores opening early to cater for the thousands of bargain hunters expected. Tesco, Britain's largest retailer, plans to open all of its Extra and Homeplus stores, plus 55 Superstores for the first time, whilst Canadian retail giant Sears says that it will reduce the price of over 30,000 items in its stores.

"Canadians wait for Boxing Day with perhaps more anticipation than any other shopping day of the year," said Dene Rogers, President and CEO of Sears Canada Inc. "Except for a few locations, Sears will open its doors at 6 am in order to give its customers ample time to stock up."

In many countries, stores are legally forbidden to open on Christmas Day, but many will be offering online promotions to start the Boxing Day sales on Christmas Day, or in some cases, even Christmas Eve. Last year, Boxing Day was the busiest day for online traffic to UK retailers, and British online retail association IMRG expects the trend to continue in 2009. In the UK, 4.3 million shoppers are expected to go online and spend £ 120 million (€134 million) up almost 20% from 2008.

Although Boxing Day is not an official holiday in the US, several stores will be offering promotions on products. Walmart has announced that it plans to extend its sales, whilst Target said all stores nationwide will be open from 7 am on December 26. Rival JC Penney said stores would open at 5 am - the earliest opening on the day after Christmas in the chain's history.