• Anne Heaney, Director

Boxing Day Sales: Shoppers Spend Big

Online discounts and rising prices fail to deter enthusiastic shoppers – but crowd numbers are down on Christmas 2016, analysts say.

Millions of people have enjoyed a last hurrah in the Boxing Day sales with determined shoppers camping out in the early hours to secure the best bargains although crowds were smaller than in previous years.

The power of the Boxing Day sales has been diminished in recent years due to a combination of internet discount extravaganzas such as November's Black Friday and the fact that major stores start their sales online on Christmas Eve. But even if crowds were thinner, shopping centre owners reported brisk trade as those who did venture out spent more.

“People like to come sale shopping because it is the thrill of the kill,” said Tom Nathan, general manager at Brent Cross, one of London’s biggest shopping centres. “Some chains have also held back putting discounted items online, which has forced people out from behind their computers.

In the run-up to Christmas fewer people visited the shops to buy their gifts and that trend continued on Boxing Day. Near closing time total shopper numbers were 4.5% down on last year, according to research group Springboard which tracks visits to shopping centres and high streets.

“What we have seen in the last couple of years is a structural shift in the Christmas trading period,” said Springboard analyst Diane Wehrle. She said the Black Friday sales had changed the way people shop because retailers started discounting in November.

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