Online blow for Boxing Day bonanza

Boxing Day sales in Blackpool town centre.'Amanda and Katie Halliwell.
Boxing Day sales in Blackpool town centre.'Amanda and Katie Halliwell.
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Online sales and early bargain hunters put the brakes on Blackpool’s traditional Boxing Day sales bonanza – but retail chiefs were still left toasting a busy day.

Some shop bosses in the resort said yesterday’s traditional sales rush seemed quieter than in previous years – with the internet and pre-Christmas sales thought to be to blame.

Millions of people across the country were expected to have headed online instead of into towns to grab bargains yesterday, while many shops kicked off sales before Christmas in a bid to boost festive footfall.

But while there was no queuing round the block, stores still said the tills were ringing steadily throughout yesterday as an “encouraging” number of shoppers hit the town centre.

Kay Oldman, supervisor at HMV on Bank Hey Street, which had 17 staff on, said: “It didn’t get busier until a lot later on and it was busier on Christmas Eve.

“It’s usually busier than this, I think the internet plays a part. It’s not been an unsuccessful day at all though, it’s just in line with how its been all year.”

Graham Dickinson, manager of Debenhams in the Houndshill Centre, said: “We have really been encouraged by the footfall today. Everyone has been in good spirits looking for a bargain.

“Online sales have definitely taken over, but when it comes to Boxing Day, they still like to come out and shop.”

Online sales started on Christmas Eve and millions are believed to have already snapped up goods from the comfort of their own homes.

Some 117 million visits to retail websites were estimated to have been made on Christmas Day in the UK, with yesterday’s figure set to rise to more than 118 million.

Shoppers in Blackpool also said they thought the town was slightly quieter than in previous years.

Mark Palmer, 34, from North Shore, said: “We always come, it’s to get big things like coats and shoes that are expensive otherwise.

“It’s been busy but I think people go online, we check online first.”

Sisters Caroline and Michelle Corry, from Blackpool, plan to return to the sales on Boxing Day 2014 after bagging bargains this year.

Caroline, 41, from South Shore, said: “You do get good bargains. I did expect it to be busier than it is.”

Shopper Stacey Malkinson, 26, from Blackpool, said: “I do all my shopping before Christmas because I’m organised but there are good bargains now.

“The shops are busy enough, they say people are strapped for cash but there’s still plenty of them shopping.”

Elsewhere in the country, some keen bargain-hunters started queuing before dawn to ensure they were first in line when the shops opened.

A number of stores in London laid on food and entertainment to entertain those waiting in the cold.

Hundreds of shoppers surrounded Selfridges, where queues snaked around the huge shopping emporium on the capital’s Oxford Street.