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Brits continue to hit high street

Shoppers around the country continued to hit the high streets today, in what experts said is the busiest retail weekend of the year so far.

There were further strong sales after the excitement of Black Friday saw huge crowds descend on stores, bringing with it chaotic scenes and flashes of violence.

Early indications show this year is going to be even bigger than last year, with experts predicting that sales will trump records yet again.

Jace TyrrelI, deputy chief executive of the New West End company, said he thought more than three million shoppers would visit stores across the West End between Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

He said: “This is the busiest trading weekend of the year so far. Yesterday footfall on Oxford Street was up 7% on last year as the majority of promotions were high street brands. Today will be a big day as well because it’s a full trading day – shops will be open until 10pm.

“Opening hours are restricted on Sunday, and Monday will be back to work for many.

“We’re set to make £220 million across the West End for Friday, Saturday and Sunday – up between 5 to 10% on last year.”

Mr Tyrrell said high street brands had told him their sales are “very strong”.

“There are a lot of double digit sales for the first time, in terms of percentages, yesterday sales are up in the 10s against the same day last year,” he said.

Online retailers are braced for their busiest day of the year as consumers take part in the annual pre-Christmas shopping spree dubbed Cyber Monday.

Recent years have seen online shopping figures consistently peaking on the first Monday in December, thought to be a combination of the last payday before Christmas falling on the previous Friday and a weekend spent browsing the shops before buying online.

Mr Tyrrell predicted that while shoppers would be returning to work on Monday, they would continue shopping online.

He said: “John Lewis are having a very strong online trade. Smart retailers are maxing their online transactions.” Meanwhile, Amazon.co.uk said it expected to increase on its busiest ever day yesterday. The online retailer recorded orders for more than 5.5 million goods, with around 64 items sold per second on Black Friday yesterday.

Vice President of EU Retail at Amazon, Xavier Garambois, said: “Ever since we introduced Black Friday to the UK in 2010, sales have increased year on year but this year really has surpassed all of our expectations.”

The busiest shopping day on the high street often falls two days before Christmas Day, however Mr Tyrrell suggested this weekend would be the biggest trading weekend of the year.

“The nature of shopping is gifting,” he said, “Whereas as you get closer to Christmas it becomes closer to groceries.”

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