BARGAINHUNTERS are expected out in force from the early hours of today as stores slash prices on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
Despite an online shopping frenzy, which has already captured a record share of festive spending, retailers are expecting Boxing Day to be as popular as ever.
Research suggests 22m shoppers are set to spend £3.74bn today - a six per cent increase on last year.
Next kicks off the rush at 6am, followed by Debenhams an hour later and Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser and Currys PC World at 8am..
Jim Harris, centre manager at St Stephen’s in Hull, said: “Last year we had people queuing from just after midnight. We had 58,000 people through the doors last Saturday and we expect around 55,000 today.
“December 21 is traditionally slightly busier, but spend-wise this will be the busiest day of the year.”
Mr Harris said footfall for the year was down 2.3 per cent but sales were up 6.5 per cent, suggesting more planned shopping trips and an increase in customer confidence.
Last year 150,000 shoppers poured through the doors at Meadowhall and they are expecting queues to form from 2am today.
“Last year by 9am the whole centre was open and we already had 10,000 to 15,000 people through the door - we are expecting another busy Boxing Day,” said a spokeswoman.
In unexpectedly good news for the High Street, the research by VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research also predicts 78 per cent of total Boxing Day transactions are set to take place on the High Street.
Online sales are set to be up by 13 per cent on last year.
VoucherCodes managing director Claire Davenport said pre-Christmas sales had soared in popularity, but had yet to take over traditional sales dates, with many retailers choosing to go all out on Boxing Day.
She said: “Judging from our research, it looks as though consumer appetite to snap up deals is here to stay, both on the High Street and online.”