Thousands have patiently queued to snap up bargains at Perth’s Boxing Day sales.

Bargain-hunting Brits have hit the streets of the nation’s cities and towns to snap up the best Boxing Day sales offers. Eager shoppers have been queueing since the early hours to get their hands on the best bargains, in a desperately-needed high street boost. 

The rush comes amid warnings city’s could come to a standstill, with severe traffic jams clogging streets as a result of the on going rail strikes. Trains across Britain will be brought to a halt for the second day running, following a walkout by employees who are members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT).

The AA said it expects 15.2 million cars on the roads across the UK this Boxing Day, with football fans and eager shoppers among those most likely to travel. The RAC has warned that the M25 is expected to get clogged up.

But the travel carnage has failed to stop bargain hunters in Manchester’s Trafford Centre, who have piled into the shopping centre in their hundreds.  The militant industrial action, which has already caused much disruption over the festive period, is now set to mare the post-Christmas sales.

Two hotspots for queues include junction 7 to 16 clockwise, and from junction four to one anti-clockwise. A spokesman for the AA said: ‘Traffic is likely to build around shopping centres as lots of people seek a bargain in the sales, meanwhile football fans will travel to see their teams.

Research by Barclaycard Payments found that the average shopper intends to buy £229 worth of items in the post-Christmas sales period, a reduction of £18 compared with 2021. Industry insiders have said that retailers have been left with piles of unsold Christmas items as people continue to tighten their belts. 

‘There is scope for localised traffic congestion and more short trips, but traffic should be dispersed throughout the day as people take their time after Christmas Day.’ This year’s shoppers are already expected to spend four per cent less on Boxing Day than in previous years as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.

Nevertheless, it still represents a busy end to 2022, with technology retailers expected to particularly benefit from shoppers seeking a bargain.  Personal technology items were the most sought-after by those questioned about the post-Christmas sales, at 42 per cent of consumers.

‘Having said that, retailers can take confidence knowing that shoppers still plan to make the most of the deals and discounts on offer.’ The research found that a growing number of shoppers expect to turn to reselling sites to buy items after Christmas. It found that almost three in 10 – about 28 per cent –  are planning to use platforms such as eBay and Facebook Marketplace, to flog off unwanted Christmas presents.

The surge into city high streets come as rail passengers were warned about the impact of the train strikes a week ago, with Christmas Eve services finishing earlier than usual, as the Britain’s winter of discontent continues.

Food and drink items are also expected to be popular, according to the credit card business. Harshna Cayley, head of online payments at Barclaycard Payments, said: ‘The rising cost of living and inflationary pressures have naturally had an impact on the amount being spent in the post-Christmas sales this year.

Network Rail had already told passengers to ‘only travel by train if absolutely necessary’ between the Christmas period to 8 January.  Boxing Day is usually an extremely popular day for airport transfers such as the Heathrow Express and Stansted Express.

This year, however, passengers will be forced to find other ways of getting to and from Britain’s airport. Other services across the country affected by the RMT strike include the Merseyrail, which was due to run a half-hourly service across Merseyside.

Chiltern Railways historically ran two trains an hour between London Marylebone and Oxford Parkway, calling at the Bicester Village outlet store. ScotRail historically operated a Boxing Day service in the Strathclyde area with its first Boxing Day trains between Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High in 2021.

Northern operated a service between Liverpool Lime Street and St Helens Central on Boxing Day last year. Southern also served several routes on that day, connecting London Bridge with locations such as Brighton, Crystal Palace and East Croydon.

Meanwhile coach operators National Express and Megabus have experienced strong demand. As many head to the airports, more than 1,000 Border Force staff are expected to walk out in the latest round of industrial action. Border Force staff will be on strike, affecting passport control desks at Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Glasgow airports.

As a result military personnel have been drafted in to airports to keep passengers moving. On Christmas Day passengers at Heathrow and Gatwick praised the ‘brilliant’ military for doing the job with ‘record’ efficiency today. 

Throughout the winter months, Britain has seen union members from multiple different sectors striking over pay and working conditions over the last few months. The Royal Mail walked out again on December 23 and stopped delivering letters and parcels – only prioritising special services.

The Royal Mail said despite ‘well-developed contingency plans’ it ‘cannot fully replace the daily efforts of its frontline workforce’. Members of the Royal College of Nursing also carried out industrial action last week on December 20, and the week before on December 15 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Some 115,000 members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) went on strike for the then 17th day, having cost the organisation over £100million already. It meant last minute cards and presents did not to make it in time for Christmas.

As a result more than 40,000 patient appointments and procedures were rescheduled. The union, who is battling with the Government to provide an above inflation pay rise, have called two more dates for strike action.

Thousands of ambulance workers already walked out this week prompting ministers to warn people to be careful, ‘use common sense’ and avoid risks.  GMB had originally planned a second ambulance worker strike on December 28 but took the decision to cancel it to ‘allow people to enjoy Christmas’.

Unless a pay plan is negotiated, there will be two 12 hour walk outs on January 18 and 19. Ambulance workers have also planned two more days of industrial action to commence on January 11 and 23, affecting London, Yorkshire, North West, North East and the South West.

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