Shoppers queued up from 2am today at the Bullring in a bid to grab a bargain.
Retailers expect more bumper sales in Birmingham today as the “busiest week of the year” continues after “record-breaking” Boxing Day trade.
Selfridges confirmed that it had beaten Boxing Day records set in 2009 – with trade at its stores in Birmingham, London, and Manchester up by 15 per cent on the same day two years ago.
Sue West, Selfridges’ director of operations, said: “Despite Tube disruptions and launching our sale on a Sunday, we had record sales in our first hour.
“Ladies’ accessories and jewellery have been the main attractions with high value diamond pieces driving Selfridges’ Wonder Room sales.”
Leicester’s Highcross centre estimated it had seen around 90,000 visitors, some of whom arrived at 2am to queue.
Jo Tallack, general manager at Highcross, credited huge discounting as a significant motivator for many shoppers and predicted that there would be similar high sales levels today.
Kent’s Bluewater shopping centre said it expected nearly a million visitors this week while upmarket department store Selfridges said it had enjoyed record first-hour sales despite a Tube strike in London yesterday.
Other shopping centres around the country will hope the strong spending levels continue after a day of high takings kicked off the post-Christmas sales.
The Bluewater complex said a number of its retailers had achieved best-ever levels of spend, propelling many to pole position within their chains on a national level.
The centre’s retail manager, James Waugh, said he expected the boom to continue as luxury items, such as premium-branded handbags and accessories, young fashion ranges, electricals and other big ticket items have been in greatest demand.
“Today is the start of the busiest week of the year at Bluewater, during which over 950,000 guests are expected to visit, and we are delighted with how it has begun,” Mr Waugh said.
Although a fatal stabbing forced the closure of some stores on Oxford Street yesterday afternoon, many retailers in London and other parts of the UK said they had made their best ever start to the traditional post-Christmas rush.
With London Underground due to resume normal service today, profits could rise even further.
London’s Brent Cross mall took up to £1,000 a second as shoppers sought to take advantage of discounts of up to 75 per cent.
The centre welcomed 10,000 shoppers within an hour of opening, having drafted in 20 extra traffic wardens to ensure car parks could cope with demand.
The centre’s general manager, Tom Nathan, pinpointed value as being at the top of customers’ priorities.
But he added: “That doesn’t mean they are buying cheap brands. In fact they are buying premium trusted brands, but at great savings.”
Several other shopping centres saw customers queuing from the early hours to take advantage of early sales openings at the likes of Next and Hollister.
Shoppers arrived at Birmingham’s Bullring at 2am, while at Cabot Circus in Bristol shoppers turned up at 5am.
Bargain hunters may have to rise early again today to take advantage of the huge discounts available.
Despite the effects of the Tube drivers’ strike over a pay dispute, traders in London’s West End said they had taken £15 million in the first three hours of the sales.
Jace Tyrrell of the New West End Company, which represents traders on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street, said: “As ever, the West End’s Boxing Day sales have attracted shoppers in their hundreds of thousands.
“Whilst there was heavy discounting pre-Christmas, retailers have pulled out all the stops with additional deals and refreshed merchandise to entice bargain hunters and offers will be available into the New Year.
“Retailers are reporting that home electrics and fashion accessories, discounted by up to 70 per cent, are flying off the shelves.”