London stores packed as shoppers snap up Boxing Day bargains

Complimentary mince pies and coffee for the waiting crowds outside Harrods Credit: Rick Findler/PA Wire

The Boxing Day sales got off to a flying start with shops reporting a surge in business in the first hour of trading. Bargain hunters had been queueing outside of Selfridges in London's West End since 10.30pm on Christmas Day.

The store which deals with up to 250,000 customers in a week expects 150,000 people to go through its doors on Boxing Day.

Meave Wall, Selfridges store director, said: "We anticipate it will be another record-breaking day for us. In the first hour across all of our stores we anticipate we will take probably around £2 million, which is up on last year."

As the crowds flooded in Ms Wall described it as "a phenomenal start" to the sale and easily the "busiest day of the year".

There were over 300 people waiting outside as the doors at Fenwick Brent Cross in north west London opened at 08.30am.

Jenny O'Donoghue, managing director at Fenwick Brent Cross, described it as a "very strong start" to the Boxing Day sale with "our biggest ever first hour of trade".

John Lewis predicted that its "mobile Christmas" is here to stay as shoppers snapped up deals on their mobile and tablet devices during Christmas Day. It accounted for 72% of traffic to throughout Christmas Day and was the store's "biggest ever Christmas Day for orders".

It also noted strong sales in the first hour of its online clearance, which began on Christmas Eve at 5pm.

Department stores Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty and House of Fraser are offering designer goods at a fraction of their usual price, while both Next and Marks & Spencer have launched discounts of up to 50% on sale items.

Shoppers in Selfridges on Oxford Street, London searching for bargains during the Boxing Day sales Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Online shoppers are expected to spend £748 million today, or £519,000 a minute,