Sales fever hits Ipswich

SHOPPERS poured into town in their thousands in an attempt to take advantage of early post-Christmas sales bargains.Ipswich town centre was packed as shoppers took advantage of two days off work to hit the shops.

SHOPPERS poured into town in their thousands in an attempt to take advantage of early post-Christmas sales bargains.

Ipswich town centre was packed as shoppers took advantage of two days off work to hit the shops.

They were keen to snap up bargains - and spend some of the money they had been given over the Christmas period.

Roads into Ipswich came to a standstill as thousands of cars were heading into town.

And buses - which were mainly operating a Sunday timetable - were very crowded as more people came into town.

In the town centre the "Golden Mile" - between St Matthew's Street and Major's Corner - was a thronging mass of bargain-hunters.

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And the shopping centres were also very busy.

Colin Roberts, manager of the Buttermarket centre, said shoppers arrived later than he expected, but stayed later as well.

"I'd thought we would get a rush about 10.30am and then be quietening down by 2.30pm.

"But most people didn't arrive until about 11.30pm - and at 3.30 we still had people queuing to get into the centre car park.

"It's been a bit different - but very busy here today. We've had a pretty busy Christmas generally. People seem to have been a lot more organised with their buying this year," he said.

John Kyprianou, manager of Marks and Spencer, in Westgate Street, Ipswich, said: "We are heaving. We opened at 8.30am and there were quite a few people in this morning and queues outside.

"By 9-9.30am the store was packed with people trying to look for bargains. I haven't checked the figures but it seems better than last year on the first day of the sale.

"It's very busy and the tills are ringing. There are sales across all areas; clothing, gifts and even a bit of food, especially the novelty foodstuffs. Everything is selling very fast."

Ipswich was following a pattern that developed across the country.

Retail centres reported near-record sales levels yesterday on the first full shopping day after Christmas.

After being reined in by Sunday opening hours on Boxing Day, consumers were queuing in their thousands at 5am to take advantage of clothing retailer Next's post-Christmas sale.

Birmingham's £530 million Bullring complex estimated that up to 200,000 visitors passed through its doors, while Bluewater in Kent also reported extremely busy aisles despite a early morning road accident which hampered early sales.

The Trafford Centre in Manchester also opened at 5am for the Next sale, attracting more than 1,000 bargain-hunters at a time when most Britons were still asleep.

About 120,000 people are predicted to visit the mall during the day, just 17,000 fewer than its best-ever figure, which was achieved on December 20.

The MetroCentre in Gateshead said December 27 was usually its busiest day of the year.

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