BARGAIN-HUNTERS were out in force across the North East to take advantage of this year’s Boxing Day sales.
Around a thousand eager shoppers queued up from 3am yesterday to get the pick of the bunch at the Silverlink shopping park in North Tyneside.
A large queue began snaking around the retail park waiting for the doors to open at 6am.
The first dedicated shopper was Susan Tonks, 38, of North Shields, who bagged £300 worth of clothes.
The mother-of-two, who runs Fidgets hair salon for kids in Whitley Bay, said: “I think it’s great. If you are in first then you get the best deals. I was at the front of the queue then two other ladies turned up about 10 minutes later, then suddenly lots of other people arrived.
“This is my fourth year coming to the Next sale and I recognised some of the people in the shop from other years.
“I was buying for my two children, Katie, who is three-and-a-half and Benjamin, who is 15 months old.
“Also four of my friends have had new babies recently so I have been getting clothes for them too. I’ve been buying presents too, but nothing for me.”
Many also packed the stores in Newcastle’s Northumberland Street and Eldon Square Shopping Centre.
David Lumley, 48, of Whickham, Gateshead, bought a new lamp and light bulbs in the sales.
The customer service officer said: “Things are very overpriced before Christmas so it’s good to buy things in the sale, particularly during the current economic climate.”
After three years of opening on Boxing Day, it is now an established and key trading day at Eldon Square, and yesterday retailers reported brisk business.
Friends Christien Holland and Charlton Robinson, both from Blakelaw, Newcastle, were keen to find bargains. Newcastle College student Christien, 19, said: “It’s the first time I’ve been to the Boxing Day sales. It’s been good fun, and I’ve bought some T-shirts and pants.”
Charlton, 18, a sports science student at Walbottle Campus, said: “Some of the shops have been really packed and I’ve bought some joggers and shoes.”
Although the Next store opened their doors at 6am, most other retailers opened at 9am.
Phil Steele, general manager of Eldon Square said: “With post-Christmas discounts on a wide range of products, savvy bargain hunters still have an appetite for post-Christmas sales.”
Dalton Park near Seaham, County Durham, also reported an excellent Boxing Day with visitor figures 14% higher than last year.
Customers at the outlet shopping centre can enjoy savings of up to 70% on many top brands.
Centre manager Jerry Hatch said: “This is very encouraging when reports indicate that many people have cut back this year and indicates that people are choosing to shop where they are guaranteed great value and good deals.”