Many shoppers have been queuing at high street stores as early as 4.30am this morning after traditional Boxing Day sales were switched to today. Next, which traditionally is the first store to open at 6am on the 26th, often attracts swathes of people hoping to bag themselves discounted goods.
Despite the one-day delay in stores opening, the queue for Next spanned 500 metres at the Brotherhood Retail Park in Peterborough.
The company’s Liverpool store saw queues of a similar size, while sizeable queues could also be spotted outside a branch of Next in Shoreham-by-Sea.
Queues began to form at 1am for a 6am opening at Next store located at the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham.
While Cardiff’s Queen Street branch also saw bargain hunters queuing up before the doors opened at 6am.
The keen shoppers were offered surgical face masks by staff while waiting in an attempt to protect them against the spread of Covid.
Customers weren’t deterred by weather conditions either, as, at the Silverlink retail park in North Tyneside, many donned thick coats and bobble hats as they waited.
Shoppers could be seen as far as the eye could see waiting for Next to open at 6am at the branch, with many clutching shopping bags as they waited to be allowed inside.
Images of lengthy queues showing shoppers coming out in their thousands comes after some of the UK’s biggest stores including Marks & Spencer, Next and John Lewis remained closed on Sunday.
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While in central London, footfall was 67 per cent lower than 2019 numbers, and it was 58 per cent below 2019 in other major UK cities.
Figures were slightly higher in market towns, which saw just a 12 per cent decrease from 2019 shopping traffic.
New West End Company, a business partnership of 600 UK & international retailers across Oxford Street, Bond Street, Regent Street and Mayfair, reported that footfall was down 44 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Company Chief Executive Jace Tyrrell said that London continued to feel the effects of the Omicron Covid variant and that many shoppers had opted to shop online rather than instore.
He added: “This, combined with the limitations of Sunday Trading regulations saw a muted start to the post-Christmas sales period.
“We hope that the Prime Minister will provide further clarity on possible restrictions this week to ensure that businesses are given enough time to prepare for any further changes.”
New coronavirus restrictions came into force in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland which could see many buyers making purchases online instead.
Due to the restrictions, shoppers are expected to spend an average of £247 each in the end-of-year sales.
This is an increase of £85 on 2020’s figure and £61 more than in 2019.