TORRENTIAL conditions did little to deter determined Scottish shoppers yesterday as bargain hunters queued in the pouring rain on what retailers hailed as one of the busiest Boxing Days on record.
Shopping centres north of the Border slashed prices in the Boxing Day sales in preparation for an expected £3.74 billion of sales UK-wide.
Shoppers began to queue as early as 3.30am in some places, with more than 22 million people expected to hit the sales across Britain yesterday.
Fort Kinnaird near Edinburgh said it expected to welcome 55,000 customers on Boxing Day.
At Glasgow Fort, centre manager Phil Goodman said queues of around 300 people had formed outside Next – traditionally known for its heavy discounting in the Boxing Day sales – from 3.30am for its 6am opening.
Gary Turnbull, general manager at Glasgow shopping centre in Braehead, said the mall opened its doors at 5.30am. “It’s the busiest start to the Boxing Day sales we’ve had for years and it got even busier as the day went on, so we brought in extra staff to direct traffic in the free car parks,” he said.
Shoppers were seen jostling to get their hands on cut-price handbags at luxury department store Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh.
One shopper said: “The handbag section at Harvey Nicks was crazy – people all seemed to be after Gucci bags. A lot of them seemed to be tourists.”
Shopper Anna McKerchar hit the sales in Aberdeen city centre with friends early yesterday morning, spending around £200.
“I was in the city at 4.45am and there were hundreds of people already queuing for Next to open at 6am,” she said. “I spent about £200 but got loads of stuff for it and everything was half price or less so I was pretty impressed. I’ve never got up for the sales before.”
Figures from VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research suggest that 22 million shoppers were set to spend £3.74 billion in the Boxing Day sales – a 6 per cent increase on last year.
The research predicted that 78 per cent of the total Boxing Day transactions would take place in bricks and mortar stores.
However, online retailers also got in on the action, with online sales set to be up 22 per cent on last year to £856 million, according to data firm Experian and online retailing trade association IMRG.
Department store John Lewis, which launched its online sale on Christmas Eve, said that website orders were up 10.7 per cent year-on-year on Christmas Day, with 75 per cent of traffic coming from mobile devices. A cut-price Apple Watch was one of the best sellers, while the store also sold a Lego Minifigures set every two seconds during the first hour of its clearance sale.
Currys PC World also said it expected a record number of shoppers at its biggest ever electrical sale, while department store Debenhams, which has 12 stores in Scotland, launched a half price sale, both online and in store, with some items cut by up to 70 per cent.
Steve Richardson, UK regional director at analyst FootFall, said: “With Boxing Day falling on a Saturday, this means for most an extended Christmas break with the extra bank holiday on Monday.
“We anticipate the extra day will motivate shoppers to use this additional day off to seek out further bargains, spend Christmas vouchers and even return or exchange unwanted Christmas gifts.