THERE were queues in Worcester High Street as shoppers hit the town looking for bargains on Boxing day.

Dozens of people queued to get into Next from as early as 5am, when it opened for its annual Boxing day sale.

Footfall in the city on Monday generally was reportedly that expected from a typical, brisk Saturday in the city.

CrownGate shopping centre manager Erica Burlace said Worcester's retailers reported sales were on a par with last year - although figures in the UK showed a 6.7 percent fall on last year.

She said: "It's a positive picture. It has been busy.

"On Boxing day, in terms of footfall, it was relative to a normal Saturday.

"The difference is people are coming in specially to return something or exchange it or they've seen something prior to the sales.

"Most major retailers by lunchtime were saying it was like for like on the same period as last year."

However, she said the sales were changing with retailers starting them before Christmas and a culture for heavy discounting was the norm.

She said: "You don't feel like it is a bargain anymore.

"It's almost quite a disappointing experience for customers.

"The excitement around a sale has gone. Black Friday has replaced it a little bit."

One store that proved popular was Lush, in the High Street.

Sophie Grogan, manager at Lush, said: "We had quite a long queue for the first two hours of the store opening.

"We had some crowd control going on and customers said they appreciated it.

"We don't do any sales any other time of the year so people do flock to us for the Boxing day sale."

However, for most shops, Tuesday, which was also a bank holiday, was the busiest day.

Staff at Joules said they had a queue of people waiting to get into the store.

Naomi Kalkun, store manager at Joules, said: "It's been busy from the off.

"We had a little queue when we opened at 10am.

"I think it was a family day on Boxing day so there was less people out than Tuesday but people were loving the feel.

"It's been a great atmosphere in here."

Among the shoppers was Alex Lane-Griffin who said: "I wasn't intending to buy anything.

"I wanted to return Christmas gifts that were the wrong size.

"I've ended up buying a coat from Joules in the sale.

"It was a very good bargain. There was £50 off."

Debbie Blake, owner of independent shop Me and My Friend in Reindeer Court said: "I trialled opening this year and we've seen a few people but it wasn't worth the effort of interrupting Christmas."

Adrian Field, head of Worcester Bid, said: "Trade has been steady in the run-up to Christmas day with some retailers discounting ahead of the 25th.

"People have taken advantage of good deals now ahead of expected price rises in January.

"The pubs and restaurants have also done well on the whole."