Thousands of people grabbed a bargain as Hartlepool got into the swing of Boxing Day sales.
More than 6,500 customers visited the Middleton Grange Shopping Centre by lunchtime with many major retailers offering items on sale.
By 12pm, 6,500 people visited the centre and it is a good opportunity to grab those bargains, not just on Boxing Day but right through until JanuaryMark Rycraft
Centre manager Mark Rycraft said he was “really pleased with the footfall so far.” He said the centre opened at 8am and there were immediate queues outside at least one store. Shops offering sales included River Island, H&M, Boots, Pep & Co, New Look, TJ Hughes, Roman and Peacocks.
Mr Rycraft added: “By 12pm, 6,500 people visited the centre and it is a good opportunity to grab those bargains, not just on Boxing Day but right through until January.”
Mr Rycraft said products which were doing particularly well appeared to be clothes across all ranges for men, women and children.
“It tends to be clothing which does well but it is also Boots which does well with Christmas gifts,” said Mr Rycraft.
Mr Rycraft said he was pleased with how the Christmas season had gone, especially with the free parking scheme on days including Boxing Day. “It really does help, having those incentives. It works well for footfall.”
He said the arrival of new stores in November and December, including Rewind and B&M, had helped to create a busy festive season for Middleton Grange.
Across Britain, Boxing Day bargain hunters were up early, though figures suggested fewer Britons would go sales shopping this year than in the past.
A quarter of Britons were expected to shop in the Boxing Day sales, down from 32% last year, according to Barclaycard.
The figures suggest the 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 were 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.
Queues formed down the street at London department store Harrods, which opened its doors at 10am. Butlers gave croissants, coffee and bacon sandwiches to those patiently waiting, and put on a dance show.
Consumers have enjoyed yet another year of falling prices and bargains as the new normal.
Richard Hyman, who has analysed the retail sector for more than 30 years, said: “I’ve never seen a market like this. Sales used to be used to clear stock. That’s a thing of the past. Now there is a permanent sale.”