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Shoppers smash Boxing Day records
Shoppers attending the first day of the post-Christmas sales at The Oracle Shopping centre in Reading
Boxing Day sales records have been smashed after shoppers sent tills into meltdown.
Across the country, thousands of bargain-hunters waited for stores to throw open their doors. Some had queued overnight.
In London's West End shopping areas, footfall was up 31.3% on Boxing Day last year, with sales fuelled by tourists eager to spend. The UK average footfall was up by 21.6%, the retailers' body said.
In London's bustling Oxford Street, flagship store Selfridges reported its most successful first hour of trade ever, with £1.5 million rattling through the tills.
Three thousand shoppers were waiting outside the shop at 7am, and the first purchases were made within two minutes.
Forecasters said more than £50 million would have been taken on the West End's famous shopping destinations of Bond Street, Regent Street and Oxford Street by closing time.
The surge in enthusiasm for a spending spree was attributed by tax-free shopping experts Global Blue to wealthy international shoppers drawn in by deals on premium beauty brands and designer fashion accessories.
Middle Eastern, Chinese and Nigerian shoppers were predicted to be the strongest growth nationalities for West End shopping.
Jace Tyrrell, director of the New West End Company, which represents retailers, said: "Chinese shoppers are the top spenders across all three streets, and it's key we offer an unrivalled welcome for international visitors.
"We have a team of welcome ambassadors, ready to greet visitors, who speak over 22 languages combined, including Mandarin."