IT is traditionally a major shopping day where bargain hunters snap up leftover retail stock at rock bottom prices - but which in recent times has faced competition from the pre-Christmas sales of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
But this Boxing Day, some Scots shoppers seemed keener than ever to hit the Boxing Day sales - with some queuing as early as 2.45am yesterday morning to get their hands on the best discounted goods.
Yet despite the initial flurry of enthusiastic bargain hunters, the average footfall across the UK for the period up to midday was 4.2 per cent lower than for the same hours on Boxing Day last year, according to retail intelligence experts Springboard.
Shopping centres and high street retailers reported people queuing with flasks of hot drinks from the early hours as stores such as Next, Lush and Marks and Spencer knocked down prices.
Some retailers slashed prices by as much as 70 per cent, with stores swapping their festive windows for huge signs promising hefty discounts.
However, Chris Daly, chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, said: “The quiet high streets across the country confirm that the days of setting the alarm to be first in line for the Boxing Day sales are long gone.
“Today’s low footfall figures represent the final chapter in the tale of an exceptionally bleak year for traditional retail, when even high street giants considered ‘too big to fail’ stumbled.”
David Lyon, marketing manager at intu Braehead near Glasgow, said: “Shoppers who got up before dawn to head out to intu Braehead were boxing clever as they bagged a bargain or three.
“Our Boxing Day sales are as popular as ever and as early as 2.45am the first shoppers arrived to wait for Next to open their doors at 6am. And by the time the store did open, there were more than 200 people queuing outside the store.”
He said that managers opened the doors of the centre at 5am - an hour before the first shop opened - to allow bargain hunters to queue inside.
He said: “When the centre officially opened at 9am there were huge queues at Lush and people were still waiting in line well into the mid-morning. This is going to be one of our busiest shopping days of the year and as the day went on more and more people came to intu Braehead.”
Boxing Day still remains a key shopping day - twice as much money was spent on Boxing Day than Black Friday last year - while the period between Christmas Day and New Year generated £12 billion in sales, according to ShopperTrak.
High street retailers had already cut prices after trading on the busiest shopping day of the year, dubbed “Super Saturday”, failed to lure shoppers to stores.
It has been a torrid year for retailers with notable high street names such as Poundworld and Maplin falling into administration, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams announcing plans to shutter stores, while Superdry, Carpetright and Card Factory issued profit warnings.
Brands have been battling higher costs, low consumer confidence as shoppers rein in spending amid Brexit uncertainty and people increasingly shop online rather than visit bricks-and-mortar stores.
David Pierotti, general manager at Silverburn shopping centre in Glasgow, said: “Attracted by the thrill and discounts available, Scots are continuing to take the sales seriously with early birds queuing outside Next from 3am this morning with Zara also proving to be incredibly popular with our shoppers today.”
Ryan Manson, general manager at Union Square in Aberdeen, said there had been a lot of demand for its cinema and restaurants on Boxing Day, adding: “There’s been several big new film releases recently, including Mary Poppins Returns, Aquaman, and Spiderman into the Spider-Verse, which are proving a major draw.”
Don Williams, retail partner at KPMG in the UK, said: “Since Black Friday hit UK shores back in 2013, the festive sales period hasn’t quite been the same.
“With this year’s Black Friday being a bit of a damp squib, many could be forgiven for hoping that would have benefited post-Christmas sales, including Boxing Day.
“But, for the vast majority, that is unlikely. Most will still have their work cut out to persuade shoppers who have notably been clawing back their spend.”
Meanwhile, online selling sites already offered unwanted Christmas gifts for sale, with one Scot - Joe Slavin from Fife - lambasted on social media for trying to sell a pair of trainers on Facebook for £65 just hours into Christmas morning.