BOXING Day sales fever swept Suffolk as bargain hunters hit the high streets today in search of deals.

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Staff at Ipswich’s biggest stores arrived to find queues of eager shoppers waiting to browse the discounts.

Most of the town’s retail stores chose to open their doors and take advantage of the sales rush.

Many slashed prices in the hope of boosting trade before the turn of the year.

Ipswich’s Tower Ramparts shopping centre enjoyed a busy day’s trade, according to centre manager Mike Sorhaindo, who said: “It was an encouragingly brisk start to the sales, with a number of shoppers queuing to get in early.

“We have been busy in the lead up to Christmas but that doesn’t always translate into sales. Boxing Day traditionally kick-starts a busy period ahead of the usual lull in February.”

The British Retail Consortium reported hard-fought sales among retailers trading in a continually tough environment.

Director general Helen Dickinson: “Overall, Christmas hasn’t been a boom time for UK retailers but it hasn’t been complete doom and gloom either.

“There are big variations in individual retail performances but, when the final sums are done, total spending is likely to be up modestly on last year though only broadly in line with shop price inflation.

“As we look to the New Year, utility prices are likely to edge up inflation and people are keen to continue paying down their debt, which means the amount of money they have in their pockets will remain under pressure. So, 2013 will be characterised by more of the same and there’s every sign that the ongoing endurance test for retailers of trading in a largely no-growth environment is likely to continue well into next year.”

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