BOXING Day bargain hunters were up early yesterday queuing outside stores for the best deals.

The influx of shoppers brought some welcome relief to retailers after a woeful pre-Christmas period that saw a reduction in footfall across the country and prompted some firms to start their sales early.

Boxing Day still remains a key shopping day - twice as much money was spent on Boxing Day than Black Friday last year - while the period between Christmas Day and New Year generated £12 billion in sales, according to ShopperTrak.

But one good idea won’t disguise the fact that this has been an annus horribilis for the retail sector.

It has been a torrid year for retailers with notable high street names such as Poundworld and Maplin falling into administration, Marks & Spencer and Debenhams announcing plans to shutter stores, while Superdry, Carpetright and Card Factory issued profit warnings.

High street retailers have been battling higher costs, low consumer confidence as shoppers rein in spending amid Brexit uncertainty and people increasingly shop online rather than visit bricks-and-mortar stores.

Bradford can count itself lucky that the Broadway centre has helped shore up the city’s retail sector by creating a shopping environment fit for the 21st Century.

But the knock-on effect has seen key retailers move from the top of town leaving places like Darley Street a shadow of their former selves.

Most retailers still have their work cut out but there’s still plenty to play for in the final festive spending spree of 2018.