WORCESTERSHIRE’S Boxing Day sales got off to flying start this year, with traders delighted by the rush for bargains.

Many shoppers, we suspect, will have had one eye on VAT, which will rise back to 17.5 per cent on January 1.

This might be one reason for the generally more encouraging trade on the high street in December.

Whatever the cause of the end-of-year surge in spending, local traders must be delighted.

Coming at the end of an unrelentingly difficult year for local businesses, it must have been seen as very welcome relief.

We must all hope that this upbeat end to the year heralds better news to come, and that the end is in sight for this awful recession, which has caused so much misery for so many people.

Meanwhile, a quite different sort of Boxing Day pilgrimage was taking place around the county.

The emphasis this time was distinctly rural.

Thousands of people turned out to support traditional hunt meetings. The backing was especially impressive given that the rock-hard frozen ground made it too dangerous for many hunts to ride.

The Hunting Act, which was brought into force by Worcester MP Mike Foster’s Private Member’s Bill, has been a particularly divisive piece of legislation.

We can only hope that a new Parliament can devise a way to better reconcile the interests of those who support hunting and those who despise it.