Dash 'n' grab! Police called in to control hordes as they run screaming through stores to splash out 3BILLION on bargains
Selfridges took 1.5m in first hour – most successful first 60 minutes everNumber of shoppers out across UK was up by a fifth compared to last yearBoom has been fuelled by rich tourists from Middle East, China and Nigeria
Retailers slash prices and opened as early as 6am to entice consumersCustomers literally grab bargains as they are handed out by shop staff
Next in Leeds operated ten in, ten out policy to control massive crowdsManchester's Trafford Centre enjoys 'biggest' Boxing Day sale in its history
23:32 GMT, 26 December 2012
Their eyes blazed as their arms stretched out in desperation.
This was the front line in the great Boxing Day bargain hunt.
The frenzied scene at a London perfume counter was repeated around the country as shoppers besieged stores on the first day of the sales.
Police were deployed to keep 'public order' yesterday with an estimated 10million customers spending nearly 3billion on what was thought to be the busiest Boxing Day in history. Many queued through the night to secure a prime position.
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Frenzy: The discounted perfume had customers scrambling for the boxes as if they were food hand-outs in an impoverished country
Literally grabbing a bargain: Desperate shoppers reach out to get their hands on discounted perfume during the Boxing Day sales at Selfridges in London
As the doors opened from 6am, mayhem ensued as thousands ran screaming through stores grabbing armfuls of designer items.
Crash barriers were installed and
armies of security guards hired to control the crowds. In some stores,
tourists from the Middle East, China and Nigeria outnumbered Britons in
the hunt for labels such as Gucci, Burberry, Mulberry, Louis Vuitton and
Police were used to guard some of the
country's biggest shops and malls, including the Trafford Centre in
Manchester and Selfridges on London's Oxford Street.
At the Trafford Centre, which had its
best-ever Boxing Day, some bargain hunters were in position from 2am to
ensure they secured the best deals.
In London, uniformed police patrolled
the queues outside Selfridges, while undercover officers kept an eye on
the chaotic scenes inside.
Another 380 security guards were also
hired by the West End store. Scotland Yard said officers were there to
ensure the 'safety' of shoppers as 250,000 vied to pick up cut-price
designer handbags and shoes.
Patience is a virtue: The crowds are still smiling after queuing for several hours outside Next at the Silverlink in Wallsend, North Tyneside
Smiles that say 'sales': These girls were among the first into the Next store at the Birstall Retail Park in Leeds, which is operating a ten in, ten out policy to control the surge of customers
Waiting their turn: Customers queue outside the Selfridges department store in Oxford Street ahead of opening
Hands up if you want one: Selfridges said they took 1.5million in the first hour of trading
Crazy: As the doors of Selfridges were opened thousands poured in and charged towards the items they had targeted
Star attractions: Some of women's shoes being heavily discounted in Selfridges in the Boxing Day sales
Seven police stood guard outside the
handbag department, where there had been problems with shoppers trying
to storm the doors and skip the queues.
One member of the Metropolitan force said: 'We are here from a public order perspective.'
Nationally, the number of sales
shoppers was up by 21 per cent on last Boxing Day. Bargain hunters
queued for up to seven hours outside Next stores to be first in line for
its half-price sale, which began at 6am.
Traffic chaos on the A41 as shoppers queue for the Bicester shopping centre in Oxfordshire
There were soon reports of 'aggressive' behaviour from some over-zealous shoppers.
Kieran Benfield, from Burton upon
Trent, Staffordshire, tweeted: 'Highlight of the Next sale so far –
hearing a woman threaten to hit someone with a stiletto if she pushed
in', while Becky Rowlands wrote: 'Could have punched three people in
Next sale. So aggressive.'
Many shoppers were caught in lengthy
tailbacks as they tried to reach shopping malls, city centres and retail
parks. There were long queues on the way to the Bicester Village retail
outlet in Oxfordshire.
Pile 'em high: One shopper peers over her stack of Boxing Day bargains (left) in Oxford Street's Selfridges
Frantic search: Selfridges said handbags and menswear were flying off the shelves at their flagship West End store
And in Birmingham, hundreds of people
braved the rain to queue for half a mile outside Next at the city's
Bullring shopping centre. At the Birstall Retail Park in Leeds, Next was
forced to operate a ten in, ten out policy to control the surge of
shoppers. The Bluewater centre in Kent had 120,000 visitors with queues
forming at 1am.
Back in London's West End, 800,000
were estimated to have visited the shops yesterday with crowds up a
third on last year. Analysts said more than 50million would have been
taken on Bond Street, Regent Street and Oxford Street alone.
Selfridges took a record 1.5million within its first hour of trading, as 2,800 staff manned the tills and shop floor.
Alexander McQueen scarves were among
the first to sell out, followed by Chloe, Mulberry and Balenciaga
handbags as shelves were stripped bare. For the first time in the
store's history, more men turned up to the Boxing Day sales than women.
At Harrods, in Knightsbridge, the perfume hall was so overwhelmed that staff employed a ticketing system.
Womenswear and the food hall were also crammed with bargain-hunters.
Another big name, John Lewis, launches its post-Christmas sale today with discounts of up to 70 per cent.
The group has already reported a sales
increase of 26 per cent during the last week of December, compared with
the previous year.
Many bargain hunters, of course, do
not leave the comfort of their homes. Internet users made 84million
visits to retail websites on Christmas Eve and 107million on Christmas
Day – up more than half on last year.
Amazon's UK website said Christmas Day
sales had increased by 263 per cent in five years thanks to the growth
in home broadband and the popularity of smartphones and tablets.
VIDEO: Massive Boxing Day queue goes all around the block at Selfridges in London
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Man dash: Selfridges said arouind 70 per cent of shoppers queuing to get inside were men
Shoppers pour down Oxford Street which, along with Bond Street and Regent Street, was expected to see around 800,000 customers spending 50m by the end of the day
Bargain bonanza: Hundreds of shoppers queue up for the 6am start to the Next Boxing Day sale at the Queensgate Centre in Peterborough
Scrum: A record 10million shoppers spent an estimated 3billion – around 4.8million a minute – in high street stores
Frenzy: The Next store was also swamped with customers at the Birstall Retail Park in Leeds as an estimated 10million shoppers prepared to head to the high street
'Iconic sales': Shoppers pile into Selfridges department store in London to hunt for cut-price offers
Ready, set, go! Custopmers dash into a Harvey Nichols store as it opened its doors at 10am
Going wild in the aisles: Some of these shoppers queued through the night to get first dibs on the best bargains in Next at the Silverlink in Wallsend, North Tyneside
Bags of bargains: Next was also doing a roaring trade at the West Quay shopping centre on the High Street of Southampton, Hampshire
Glee: Luke McCarthy (left) and his brother Nathan (right) struggle to carry all their Next bags as they walk through Southampton
Pleased with their purchases: These shoppers show the wait was worth it at the Highcross Centre in Leicester
Getting in line: Crowds queue outside Harrods before the opening of the store's Winter Sale