Boxing Day sales: Bargain hunters queue up from 4am for annual shopping spree - PICTURES
[gallery]Bargain hunters were up in the early hours as the Boxing Day sales kick started the shopping extravaganza in the Midlands.
Shoppers braved the cold to venture out to the shops with many queuing from 4am in a bid to bag a bargain.
Dozens of people queued in the dark at Wolverhampton's St John's Retail Park before doors opened at the Next store at 6am today.
Among those who rifled through the racks were Crystal Golding, from Walsall, and Denika Muir, from Wolverhampton, at the shop, off Dudley Road.
Shops and shopping centres across the West Midlands were preparing for flocks of customers with some stores opening earlier than usual to cope with the demand.
One of the busiest shopping centres in the West Midlands, Merry Hill in Brierley Hill, is open from 8am until 5pm, with the renowned Next sale queue opening at 4am before the doors open at 6am.
Debenhams opened their doors at the Intu centre at 7am.
West Bromwich's New Square shopping centre opens from 10am until 6pm.
Tesco opens its doors at 9am, Next opens at 6am and restaurants in and around the centre will close at around 10pm.
The Mander Centre is running opening from 10am until 5pm and House of Fraser will open at 9am.
Meanwhile, the town's Wulfrun Centre will open at 10am.
Birmingham's Bullring opens up at 8am until 8pm, guaranteeing a solid 12 hours of bargain hunting through the racks in Selfridges, Debenhams and the classic 6am start at Next. All shops at Telford Shopping Centre will open their doors to customers at 9am besides Next, who will host the usual 6am start.
Meanwhile, Saddlers shopping centre in Walsall will open from 10am until 4pm – the same as Cannock shopping centre.
The Guildhall shopping centre in Stafford will be open from 10.30am until 4.30pm.
Ninder Johal, member of the Black Country local enterprise partnership, said: "I think it will be a bumper Boxing Day but it'll be interesting to see the difference between online and in store."
Furniture shops are also gearing up for a busy day and cutting their prices. Cousins in Dudley will open up at 9am along with SCS.
It comes after a survey suggested consumer appetite for the December 26 sales has dampened this year against a backdrop of extended discounting by squeezed retailers.
A quarter of Britons (23%) will shop in the Boxing Day sales, down from 32% last year, according to Barclaycard.
The figures suggest incentive to buy in the sales has weakened following widespread discounting, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday, that continued well into December.
But post-Christmas shoppers are still predicted to go on a £3.85 billion bargain hunt on Boxing Day, spending £2.95 billion on the high street and another £900 million online, according to VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research.
Shoppers are expected to spend £7.6 billion between Boxing Day and December 29, with 67% of this going into high street tills.
The New West End Company is among those expecting a bumper Boxing Day, projecting a spend of £55 million which they attribute to a sustained increase in trade from international shoppers after the Brexit vote.
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive, said: "Boxing Day always delivers for the West End but this year promises to be especially strong for retailers as visitors from around the globe make the most of the amazing deals available from our world-class mix of retailers combined with the relative value of the weak pound.
"We expect a significantly higher number of Chinese tourists to come over specifically to bargain hunt."
Myf Ryan, chief marketing officer, Westfield UK and Europe, said: "Boxing Day continues to be Westfield's busiest day of the Christmas trading period. Last year over 330,000 shoppers visited our two Westfield centres in London and again this year we are expecting similar numbers.
"During the Christmas period last year, shoppers spent over £500,000 per hour. Westfield centres are popular shopping destinations with the large majority of our 300 retailers all on sale. The entertainment, dining and cinema offerings also draw in the customers particularly with the new big holiday film releases."