High-street giants have launched their annual Boxing Day sales early, following a difficult year for retailers.
Twice as much money was spent on Boxing Day than Black Friday last year, while the period between Christmas Day and New Year generated £12 billion in sales, according to ShopperTrak.
Many retailers have been running significant sales in the run-up to Christmas, with Debenhams offering up to 50% off some items ahead of its traditional Boxing Day sale, which starts online and in stores on December 26.
John Lewis started its clearance online at 5pm on Christmas Eve, with reductions on homewares and electrical products. Its stores in the Trafford Centre, Heathrow and St Pancras are set to open on Boxing Day but most shoppers will have to wait until December 27 to browse the shops for a bargain.
Supermarkets also announced sales during the festive period, with Sainsbury’s advertising reductions on electrical items from December 23.
Argos is set to start its sale online on Christmas Day, with discounts expected on everything from children’s toys to iPads. Bargain hunters will also find reduced tech items at Currys PC World, which is due to slash prices on Boxing Day.
Online retailers including eBay and Amazon are also set to delight shoppers with reduced prices on Boxing Day, offering a wave of discounts.
The last few days before Christmas were frantic, Ipsos Retail Performance said, with 27.4% more trips were made to non-food stores in the UK on Christmas Eve this year compared to last.
The number of shoppers in sportswear and outdoor leisure stores saw the largest gain on last year, up 44.1%, followed by department and general variety stores, up 30.4%).
Tim Denison, director of retail intelligence at Ipsos Retail Performance, said: “A busy Christmas Eve is a handy bonus for retailers this year, as shoppers headed to the stores to find those last-minute stocking fillers and to substitute for presents bought online that failed to arrive in time.
“Of course, opening hours were curtailed last year as Christmas Eve fell on a Sunday, but the week-on-week results speak for themselves: Christmas Eve delivered strong growth this year.
“The surge in shoppers to stores seen over the final few days before Christmas will give some solace to those in the sector, when they sit down to enjoy their roast turkeys today, after such a torrid year.”