Prestonians try to grab a Boxing Day bargain, with no sign of a slowdown on Fishergate
There was scant evidence of a predicted nationwide Boxing Day sales slump in Preston - with one store in the city centre witnessing queues in the street, even after it had opened its doors.
Although more than one in three Britons was forecast to hit the high street, retail analysts Springboard expected a 5 percent fall in shopping trips - after a similar decline last year.
By mid-morning on Fishergate, queues at perennial post-Christmas hotspots like Next and River Island had largely cleared. But dozens of expectant shoppers were still standing outside cosmetics outlet Lush - which was forced to limit the number of people allowed inside.
For Fleur Culshaw, it was not just reduced prices, but the rarity of the products which had persuaded her and daughter Emma Pye to wait outside for nearly an hour.
“There is a shower gel that they only being out at Christmas - and today it’s half price,” she explained.
“We were willing to wait, but hadn’t expected them to be restricting the number of people who could go in,” Emma added.
But fellow bargain-hunter - and Boxing Day sales regular - Tammy Park had noticed a difference to last year.
“We were expecting it to be even busier - last year, it took us three hours to get to the front of the queue, but today it’s shorter and is moving quicker as well,” she said.
Inside the store, supervisor Chloe Johnson said a pyjama party theme was reducing stress levels amongst staff.
“If we’d let everybody in at once, we’d have no stock left and it’d be manic - we’re trying to keep everybody calm and make things run as smoothly as possible,” she said.
Down the road outside JD Sports, Cath and Andrew Buck had decamped to escape the crowds inside. "We've been in there with my son and grand-daughter, but we've left them to it - it's packed," Cath said.
And the Mulla family had already been back to their car once to drop off their first batch of bags. "I'll be content after we've finished," Azmina said. "But my husband won't be - he'll have a much smaller bank balance."
Meanwhile, husband and wife Ram and Sylvia Laing had already agreed how the Boxing Day bill was being divided up.
“We had a conversation this morning and decided that we were each going to pay for our own stuff - because the brands he likes are more expensive than mine,” Sylvia laughed.
Barclaycard predicted that men would spend 50 percent more than women in this year’s sales, handing over an average of more than Â£225. The company also forecasted that total post-Christmas sales will hit Â£3.9bn.
Until official figures emerge, it was up to street busker Clint to take Preston’s retail temperature.
“It seemed like people were holding back before Christmas - but now people are just letting all that stress go and spending some money,” Clint said.
And will any of it be heading his way for his efforts serenading the shoppers?
“I really hope so, yes,” he smiled.