Boxing Day hunting comes to town

AFTER slow run-up to Christmas, retailers were today hoping that the early signs of sales fever should give them a much-needed boost.Hunting is a traditional Boxing Day activity – but this year more people were interested in chasing bargains rather than foxes.

AFTER slow run-up to Christmas, retailers were today hoping that the early signs of sales fever should give them a much-needed boost.

Hunting is a traditional Boxing Day activity – but this year more people were interested in chasing bargains rather than foxes.

Many Ipswich town centre stores opened for the first time on Boxing Day – and eager crowds showed they were ready to re-invade the town centre after just one day off for turkey and plum pudding.

Some shops did remain closed – but may be reconsidering this in future years after seeing how their rivals attracted customers.

Debenhams on the Cornhill opened for the first time and soon attracted hundreds of eager shoppers – from keen bargain-hunters to youngsters anxious to spend their Christmas money on bargain toys and games.

As the sound of sleigh bells fades to no more than a distant memory, the only ringing to be heard in Ipswich town centre was that of the tills as shoppers hurried to the stores eager to part with yet more cash.

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Hundreds packed the streets of Ipswich in a bid to scoop the best buys, but many were disappointed to find their favourite shops closed.

Despite the barrage of bargain-hunters, around half of the town's stores remained shut including the whole of the Tower Ramparts shopping centre.

Stephanie Moore, 19, of Woodbridge said: "I thought more shops would be open.

"A lot of the sports shops and the electrical places seem to be open but hardly any of the good clothes shops are open. I'm quite disappointed."

Those that were open slashed their prices and stepped up the special offers in a bid to encourage people to part with their pennies.

And it paid off. Several of the town's stores said they'd never seen anything like it.

Neil Roberts, Debenhams store manager, said: "We opened at 10am this morning and we had huge queues of people outside waiting to take advantage of our special offers.

"It's the first time we've opened on Boxing Day but we decided to do it because of the huge public demand."

Trade was also brisk at Woolworths in Carr Street. Out-of-hours manager Helen Turnbull said: "We've been extremely busy today. It's a definite increase on previous years."

Ipswich's experience was shared with the rest of the country – all over Britain shopping centres were reporting record Boxing Day business.

It is estimated that British shoppers will spend £9 billion over the next few days.

Elsewhere in the county hunting of a more traditional kind was taking place. Horses and hounds gathered at Holbecks Park in Hadleigh, and at Hawkstead Place Farm near Bury St Edmunds.

It is estimated that it may have been the biggest day in East Anglia's hunting history but anti-hunt campaigners warned that it could be the last, now that the Government has pledged to resolve the issue next year.

Liz Mort, from the Countryside Alliance, defended the hunts: "The hunts in East Anglia are proud of their way of life and the good they do for the countryside, wildlife, communities and the rural economy."

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