By LOUISE ECCLES, SEAN POULTER and SIMON TOMLINSON
Millions of bargain-hunters were making a beeline for the high street this morning with some queuing since 2am to ensure they bagged the best Boxing Day deals.
Retailers up and down the country have slashed prices and opened as early as 6am in a bid to entice shoppers to part with their cash.
A record 10million shoppers are expected to spend an estimated £3billion - around £4.8million a minute - in stores today alone.
Crowds at the Trafford Centre in Manchester reportedly queued up as early as 2am to get first dibs on the biggest bargains. Around 200,000 are predicted to pass through the centre today.
In Peterborough, Next was forced to operate a ten in, ten out policy to keep control of the surge into the store after opening at 6am.
Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex drafted in staff from 3am to deal with an influx of thousands of shoppers in the early hours of the morning.
The centre was bracing itself for around 110,000 customers throughout the day.
More than twice that figure was expected at the Bullring Centre in Birmingham, with 150,000 at Sheffield's Meadowhall.
However, London's West End was fearing greatly reduced numbers due to a Tube strike.
But many online retailers tried to stay one step ahead of the competition by offering heavy discounts as early as yesterday.
Families spent an estimated £300million shopping online on Christmas Day morning as they shunned traditional activities to bag a bargain.
Retailers struggled to keep up with demand as thousands logged on to buy cut-price tablet computers, smartphones and Kindle e-books.
Clothing, electrical items and jewellery at up to 90 per cent off also sold out within half an hour of going online.
Despite the economic uncertainty, more than a fifth of shoppers are expected to finish their shopping spree before January has even begun, according to a survey by Sheilas' Wheels home insurance.
The findings reveal Brits will spend an average of £46.10p in the Boxing Day sales and purchase 13 items each over the course of the January sales.
Amazon had already predicted that yesterday would be its busiest Christmas Day to date as thousands of customers logged on to buy downloads for its new Kindle and MP3 players.