BARGAIN hunters started queuing early in Bournemouth this morning for the Boxing Day sales with some shoppers camping out from 2am.

A handful of shoppers arrived at Castlepoint Shopping Centre from 2.30am in order to grab the best deals from Next.

Centre manager Peter Matthews said by the time the store opened at 6am there were quite a few shoppers waiting in anticipation for the doors to open.

In the town centre cosmetics store Lush had a queue of people snaked around the block.

Lush manager Sarah Wilde explained that only 30 shoppers were being allowed in the store at a time in order to keep things “safe and fair”.

“We have some really popular Christmas items that have drastically reduced in price so we were always expecting quite a busy day,” she said.

Customers were made to queue outside the store in Old Christchurch Road and once the store was at capacity they were only allowed in on a ‘one in one out basis’.

And despite the fact it didn’t open until 11am one very eager shopper had been waiting outside since 4am.

Across the country millions are expected to hit the high street and spend as much as £3.74 billion as stores reopen for the Boxing Day sales.

While many big name retailers launched their sales online on Christmas Eve, the high street is hoping for record footfall today.

Figures from VoucherCodes.co.uk and the Centre for Retail Research suggest 22 million shoppers are set to spend £3.74 billion in the Boxing Day sales - a six per cent increase on last year.

VoucherCodes managing director Claire Davenport said: "While pre-Christmas sale dates have soared in popularity over the last couple of years, it seems they are yet to take over our more traditional savings days, with many retailers choosing to go all out on Boxing Day, running deals as early as Christmas Day right through to the start of the New Year.

"Judging from our research, it looks as though consumer appetite to snap up deals is here to stay, both on the high street and online."

Department store House of Fraser is offering designer goods at a fraction of their usual price, while both Next and Marks & Spencer have launched discounts of up to 50 per cent on sale items.

Steve Richardson, UK regional director at analysts FootFall, said: "With Boxing Day falling on a Saturday, this means for most an extended Christmas break with the extra bank holiday on Monday.

"We anticipate the extra day will motivate shoppers to use this additional day off to seek out further bargains, spend Christmas vouchers and even return or exchange unwanted Christmas gifts, causing shopper traffic to rise 3 per cent year-on-year on Boxing Day."

Online shoppers are expected to spend £856 million today, up 22 per cent on last year's £699 million, according to data firm Experian and online retailing trade association IMRG.