BARGAIN-CONSCIOUS shoppers had the tills ringing across Wearside on Boxing Day, as sale season kicked off in style.
There were queues as early as 5am at The Bridges in Sunderland and Washington Galleries, with fashion chain Next opening at six.
The Bridges bosses are hoping the sales will continue a bumper Christmas season which saw the centre record its busiest ever weekend, as last-minute present buying went through the roof.
About 150,000 shoppers passed through the centre’s doors on Saturday and Sunday, up 18 per cent on the weekend before Christmas last year, and 76,000 vehicles used the centre’s car parks, an 11 per cent rise on a year ago.
Spokesman Kevin Rusby said the centre had been busy from first thing yesterday, with hundreds of people queuing before the first shop opened its doors.
“We opened from 5am for the Next sale and we had about 300 people queuing, which is really good.
“Then we had the Debenhams sale starting at seven and we had queues for that, too.”
Galleries security manager David Archbold said the Boxing Day crowds were continuing a trend for the whole festive season.
“It has been a good Christmas. We have had people here since 5am for the Next sale and the car parks are busy.”
Murton’s Dalton Park has also had a healthy Christmas period, and the spending showed no sign of letting up yesterday.
“Early doors we were 4.7 per cent up on last year,” said duty manager Ian Pope.
“Sports shop always do well at this time of year and our food and drink outlets are popular, but there don’t seem to be any shops that are particularly quiet, it is right across the board with people looking for bargains.
The centre had enjoyed a healthy 2012.
“It has been good news all year, really,” said Ian.