Shoppers in mammoth bargain hunt

While shoppers might not yet have fully recovered from the frenzy of gift buying the winter sales ensured high streets were besieged again yesterday just 48 hours after their temporary reprieve.


While shoppers might not yet have fully recovered from the frenzy of gift buying the winter sales ensured high streets were besieged again yesterday just 48 hours after their temporary reprieve.

Norwich got the cream of the bargain-hunting crowds as thousands flocked in from across the region for the annual sales.

Next was open from 5am, attracting queues from 4am and John Lewis reported record-breaking trade with the highest sales ever in one day.

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Hundreds of shoppers queued outside for the store's opening at 9am and filled the car park an hour later tempted by such bargains as half-price Radley handbags and own-brand fleece bath robes at £15.

Jarrold had leather sofas reduced from £1,399 to £699 and 50pc off fashions from labels such as Hobbs, Ghost and Coast. Trading director John Adams said a slow start had given way to a "very busy, positive" day.

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Borders and House of Fraser at Chapelfield shopping centre reported excellent trade that exceeded expectations. Borders had Russell Brand's My Booky Wook reduced to £7.99 and House of Fraser had 30pc off Mulberry bags and Panasonic LCD 32in televisions reduced from £799 to £599.

James Debbage, manager of Notcutt's, said shoppers queued for the stores opening to fill up trolleys with half-price Christmas decorations and lights.

Langleys Toymaster was inundated with bargain hunters after half-price Fur Real Macaw parrot toys and Mind Scrambler games.

Despite a slow start in Norfolk and Suffolk's market towns, many traders reported a busy day later.

In Yarmouth, Stuart McGee, director of Palmers department store, said sales were set to better last years and he was "delighted" with footfall. The store was selling single quilts for £19 reduced from £110 and breadmakers for £39 instead of the usual £79 price tag.

Homebase in the town was offering 50pc off its kitchen ranges, with the popular Amalfi brand going for just £1,500.

Nigel Sizeland, manager of Dereham Shopping Centre, said shoppers seemed more "manic" than last year.

Palmers store had women's Eastex hats down from £69.99 to £9.99 and men's suede flying jacket down from £199 to £99.

Wilkinson till supervisor Scott Hudson said trade was even better than expected with shelves emptying fast.

The store was offering children's rocking horses from £20 to £10

But Philip Morter, owner of Bennetts of Dereham, said while the electrical shop was busy it was not getting as many shoppers as expected.

Margaret Adair, general manager of Bakers and Larners of Holt, said they had seen a slow start to the day, which was typical of the town, but that by mid-morning both the store and the town were "very, very busy". The store was offering half-price Christmas decorations and a third off shoes among other reductions.

Starlings, which has stores in Holt, Sheringham, Fakenham, Dereham and Bury St Edmunds, was offering half price on Barbie and Bratz lines.

Beccles, Bungay and Halesworth were quiet, however, with many of the smaller, independent stores closed.

Westgate department store had all Redland and Head luggage at half price with large trolley suitcases for £20.

But Emma Bridge, manager of the Westgate store in Diss, said: "Our sale is going really well. It's exceeded our expectations."

Salter weighing scales were on offer at £7.50, reduced from £15, and Egyptian bath towels were half-price at £4.99.

Dean Honour, manager of Hughes Electrical, in King Street, Thetford, said trade had been "fantastic" despite worries that people would go to the bigger retail centres of Norwich and Bury St Edmunds.

But Teresa Stanleick, manager of Yours clothes shop, which had 70pc off on some items, said it had been "very quiet".

Susan Patterson, manager of Chadds department store in Lowestoft, said: "At first, I thought everyone had stayed indoors but now the store is really buzzing, especially in the furniture department." The store had Jacques Vert ladies' coats reduced from £279 to £129 and Antler New England luggage cut from £120 to £47.

Mark Thurston, of LR Godfrey DIY, which was offering DeWalt DEW977 drills cut from £599 to £149, said trade kicked off at about 11am.

Elsewhere in the country three women were taken to hospital after two of them fainted and another suffered breathing problems during Next sales.

West Midlands Ambulance Service, which dealt with the calls, also treated a fourth woman who suffered a hand injury at a different branch of the fashion chain.

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