Stores are launching their traditional Boxing Day sales up to 48 hours early in a bonanza for shoppers already enjoying a heavily discounted high street.

A growing list of major stores have announced discounts of 50% or more in sales to start as early as 7am on Christmas Eve.

John Lewis will start its clearance sale online at 6pm on Christmas Eve - the earliest it has ever held the sale - while chemist chain Superdrug will also start an online sale a few hours later at midnight on December 24 with discounts of up to 90%.

DIY chain B&Q will offer 50% off all its kitchens and bathrooms from 7am on Wednesday in stores and online, with discounts of up to 75% on some other items.

Fiona Wilkinson, senior vice president at Visa Europe, said: "Consumers have proven this weekend that they are prepared to postpone their shopping until the last minute in order to take advantage of the many bargains now available on the high street. We are now predicting that consumers may continue their late spending right up until Christmas Eve."

Traders reported a successful weekend and said they were also hopeful the trend would continue through to Christmas Eve.