BOXING Day began at dawn for shoppers out to bag a bargain.
Next and Boots, in The Bridges, Sunderland, threw open their doors for the annual sale extravaganza as early as 6am.
Debenhams was the next to open at 7am with thousands of eager bargain-hunters flocking through the doors.
Despite many big-name retailers launching their sales as early as Christmas Eve this year, shopping centres in the region say footfall was still strong on the biggest sales day of the year.
Rob Lamb, car park manager at The Bridges, said: “Boots and Next have definitely been the most popular. Car park and other staff were in from 4am getting everything in place as it’s such a busy day for us. Debenhams was open from 7am, which is the earliest it’s opened in a few years.”
At Dalton Park in Murton, customers flocked to the outlet shopping centre to receive savings of up to 70 per cent on brands.
For the five-week pre-Christmas sales period, the centre has seen a rise in sales of plus 5.2 per cent with a 2.7 per cent spend per head increase, compared to the same period last year.
Black Friday at the end of November gave the outlet an initial festive sales boost which has continued with the help of a special Christmas shopper incentive giving customers instant rewards on spend.
Jerry Hatch, general manager – outlets for Knight Frank, asset managers for Dalton Park, said: “Overall, we’ve had a very positive second half and our pre-Christmas sales have been extremely promising thanks to our brands, offers and incentives.
“We are optimistic this trend will continue, delivering very strong end of year results.
“We’re also looking forward to an exciting 2015 with new store openings in the pipeline.”