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Eager bargain hunters spend £1bn today in online bonanza

Record-smashing £895million was expected to be spent online on Christmas Day – up 11 per cent on las..

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  • Record-smashing £895million was expected to be spent online on Christmas Day – up 11 per cent on last year
  • Retailers are bracing for a flurry of shoppers to take advantage of huge deals in the Boxing Day sales
  • Store spending set to pass £105million as 1.5million shoppers spend at record number of convenience stores
  • Seventeen million splashed out on 'Super Saturday' – capping Britain's busiest ever week before Christmas
  • However, some retailers are feeling the strain as Boots website crashes due to sheet numbers of shoppers

By Sophie Inge and Bridie Pearson-jones For Mailonline

Published: 11:47 EST, 25 December 2017 | Updated: 14:56 EST, 25 December 2017

Eager shoppers splashed out a record £1bn on Christmas day in an online shopping splurge as retailers braced for a further spending flurry on Boxing Day.

Shoppers across the country hit the high street for Christmas Eve's 'Super Saturday' in a frenzy of panic buying but that did not stop another major outlay today as sales smashed the billion pound barrier for the first time.

And the chance of snagging a huge bargain on Boxing Day is expected to see £1million spent a minute amid 88 per cent discounts.

A record £895million is expected to be spent online – up 11 per cent on last year – as sales started yesterday or today online, according to a Centre for Retail Research study for VoucherCodes, based on interviews with 80 major UK retailers and 1,000 shoppers.

However, some websites are struggling with the numbers of bargain shoppers, with shoppers complaining about Boots website crashing.

Frustrated shoppers took to social media to air their grievances with the pharmaceutical chain.

One tweeted: 'I've waited over 40 minutes to get on your website.'

Another said: 'Mother in law has just waited 45 minutes to get onto boots website for it only to say 'we're really busy now come back later'. Disgusting! Waited all that time and can't get on!'

Others tweeted screenshots of their computers showing the waiting time to get on the site.

Speaking to the MailOnline, a spokesperson from Boots said they had 'unprecedented demand to the site'.

They added: 'Due to a technical issue with the sale we are intermittently closing the site for short periods of time while we resolve this. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this is causing our customers, and our stores will be open tomorrow with the same great deals.'

Frustrated shoppers took to social media to show their anger at the store

Frustrated shoppers took to social media to show their anger at the store

Some shoppers tweeted screenshots similar to those that are used by tickets venders at rock concerts showing the waiting time

Some tweeted GIFs and memes from popular TV shows to show their frustration at the pharmacySome tweeted GIFs and memes from popular TV shows to show their frustration at the pharmacy

Some tweeted GIFs and memes from popular TV shows to show their frustration at the pharmacy

Shoppers tweeted their frustration at the lack of stock and long waiting times on the Boots websiteShoppers tweeted their frustration at the lack of stock and long waiting times on the Boots website

Shoppers tweeted their frustration at the lack of stock and long waiting times on the Boots website

The chance of snagging a huge bargain on Boxing Day is expected to see £1million spent a minute amid 88 per cent discountsThe chance of snagging a huge bargain on Boxing Day is expected to see £1million spent a minute amid 88 per cent discounts

The chance of snagging a huge bargain on Boxing Day is expected to see £1million spent a minute amid 88 per cent discounts

Signs for Boxing Day sales were already going up across the country on Christmas Eve. Pictured: Shoppers search for a bargain outside a Next Store in central London Signs for Boxing Day sales were already going up across the country on Christmas Eve. Pictured: Shoppers search for a bargain outside a Next Store in central London 

Signs for Boxing Day sales were already going up across the country on Christmas Eve. Pictured: Shoppers search for a bargain outside a Next Store in central London

Boxing Day is due even bigger bargains as sales start early online today and from 6am Tuesday in storesBoxing Day is due even bigger bargains as sales start early online today and from 6am Tuesday in stores

Boxing Day is due even bigger bargains as sales start early online today and from 6am Tuesday in stores

Online sales started with AO.com at 12noon Christmas Eve, with Next joining from 3pm, John Lewis and M&S from 5pm and Debenhams also due to start. Argos' online sale was starting at 6am on Christmas DayOnline sales started with AO.com at 12noon Christmas Eve, with Next joining from 3pm, John Lewis and M&S from 5pm and Debenhams also due to start. Argos' online sale was starting at 6am on Christmas Day

Online sales started with AO.com at 12noon Christmas Eve, with Next joining from 3pm, John Lewis and M&S from 5pm and Debenhams also due to start. Argos' online sale was starting at 6am on Christmas Day

Seventeen million shoppers splashed out on 'Super Saturday' on Saturday - capping Britain's £7billion busiest ever week before Christmas as price cuts hit 88 per cent. Pictured: Boxing Day sale signs in One New Chance in central London on Christmas EveSeventeen million shoppers splashed out on 'Super Saturday' on Saturday - capping Britain's £7billion busiest ever week before Christmas as price cuts hit 88 per cent. Pictured: Boxing Day sale signs in One New Chance in central London on Christmas Eve

Seventeen million shoppers splashed out on 'Super Saturday' on Saturday – capping Britain's £7billion busiest ever week before Christmas as price cuts hit 88 per cent. Pictured: Boxing Day sale signs in One New Chance in central London on Christmas Eve

Last minute shoppers flock to London's West End yesterday in search of 11th-hour gifts for friends and familyLast minute shoppers flock to London's West End yesterday in search of 11th-hour gifts for friends and family

Last minute shoppers flock to London's West End yesterday in search of 11th-hour gifts for friends and family

Customer queues in some shops in the West End which stayed open until late last nightCustomer queues in some shops in the West End which stayed open until late last night

Customer queues in some shops in the West End which stayed open until late last night

Crowds mill around Oxford Circus underground station as night descended on the capitalCrowds mill around Oxford Circus underground station as night descended on the capitalHundreds of customers created queue of over 50 yards in each direction on Regent Street as they wait for Hamley's Toy Store to open yesterdayHundreds of customers created queue of over 50 yards in each direction on Regent Street as they wait for Hamley's Toy Store to open yesterday

Left: Crowds mill around Oxford Circus underground station as night descended on the capital. Right: Hundreds of customers created queue of over 50 yards in each direction on Regent Street as they wait for Hamley's Toy Store to open yesterday

Shoppers fuelled by caffeine grab last minute bargains in Central London last night Shoppers fuelled by caffeine grab last minute bargains in Central London last night 

Shoppers fuelled by caffeine grab last minute bargains in Central London last night

Crowds grow in London's west end on Christmas Eve as last minute shoppers hunt for giftsCrowds grow in London's west end on Christmas Eve as last minute shoppers hunt for gifts

Crowds grow in London's west end on Christmas Eve as last minute shoppers hunt for gifts

Seventeen million shoppers splashed out on 'Super Saturday' yesterday - capping Britain's £7billion busiest ever week before Christmas as price cuts hit 88 per centSeventeen million shoppers splashed out on 'Super Saturday' yesterday - capping Britain's £7billion busiest ever week before Christmas as price cuts hit 88 per cent

Seventeen million shoppers splashed out on 'Super Saturday' yesterday – capping Britain's £7billion busiest ever week before Christmas as price cuts hit 88 per cent

It works out at £932,000-a-minute over the 16 hours most are awake on Christmas Day.

Store spending today is set to pass £105million as 1.5million shoppers spend at a record number of convenience stores and garages also opening up.

Christmas Day online spending peaked at 10am as cash gifts and vouchers were opened and another spike is expected at 6pm before big evening TV shows, experts say.

Consumer electronics will be popular purchases while Amazon expects movies and music downloads to be big sellers.

Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, said: 'It looks like the first ever £1billion Christmas Day. The day is getting stronger every year for online spending.

'Shoppers want the bargains retailers make available when post-Christmas sales start early online.'

Post-Christmas sales started online on Christmas Eve.

Online sales started with AO.com at 12noon Christmas Eve, with Next joining from 3pm, John Lewis and M&S from 5pm and Debenhams also due to start. Argos' online sale was starting at 6am on Christmas Day.

Seventeen million shoppers splashed out on 'Super Saturday' on Saturday – capping Britain's £7billion busiest ever week before Christmas as price cuts hit 88 per cent.

And Boxing Day is due even bigger bargains as sales start early online today and from 6am Tuesday in stores.

Last minute Christmas shoppers throng the city centre, in Leeds, West YorkshireLast minute Christmas shoppers throng the city centre, in Leeds, West Yorkshire

Last minute Christmas shoppers throng the city centre, in Leeds, West Yorkshire

Last minute Christmas shoppers throng the city centre, in Leeds, West YorkshireLast minute Christmas shoppers throng the city centre, in Leeds, West YorkshireLast minute Christmas shoppers throng the city centre, in Leeds, West YorkshireLast minute Christmas shoppers throng the city centre, in Leeds, West Yorkshire

Last minute Christmas shoppers throng the city centre, in Leeds, West Yorkshire

Shoppers get some last minute presents for Christmas in Bristol on Christmas EveShoppers get some last minute presents for Christmas in Bristol on Christmas Eve

Shoppers get some last minute presents for Christmas in Bristol on Christmas Eve

Shoppers get some last minute presents for Christmas in Bristol on SundayShoppers get some last minute presents for Christmas in Bristol on Sunday

Shoppers get some last minute presents for Christmas in Bristol on Sunday

Best Christmas bargains

Bourjois Une Skin Matt Foundation was cut 88 per cent from £12.49 to £1.49 by FragranceDirect.co.uk.

A women's Reebok CrossFit Tank Top was cut 84 per cent from to £2.99 by mandmdirect.com

Big chains including Next and Oasis have cut up to 70 per cent off prices, with Top Shop, River Island and Argos at up to 50 per cent off, and some Currys deals at close to half-price.

Saturday had even more shoppers than are due on Boxing Day, with one in three adults shopping yesterday as £1.7billion was spent.

Fourteen million jammed high streets and shopping centres to spend £1.45billion, with 3.4m shopping online, spending an additional £220million.

Bluewater, Kent, was expected to have seen 110,000 shoppers yesterday, with 100,000 at Lakeside, Essex.

St David's, Cardiff, was due 250,000 shoppers, with 220,000 at Birmingham's Bullring, 180,000 at Manchester's Trafford Centre and 90,000 at Bristol's Cabot Circus.

Scottish malls were anticipated to appraoched 100,000 at the Braehead Centre, near Glasgow, 80,000 at Glasgow's Silverburn and 70,000 at Aberdeen's Union Square.

The splurge capped a record £7billion spree for the last shopping week before December 25, the spending data showed, with around £5.5billion spent in stores this week and another £1.5billion online.

The mega spree was due to a late rush after shopper totals were down 10 per cent on last year over the first three weeks of December.

Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, said: 'This may well be the busiest ever week before Christmas in terms of shopper numbers, and the biggest spending week before Christmas ever.

'Saturday has the highest ever number of shoppers before Christmas forecast, as it falls right before Christmas Eve.

'There is a trend of spending late. And prices are falling so shoppers can expect bargains.'

Mintel director of retail research Richard Perks added: 'More and more shoppers are leaving it until the last minute.'

Travel disruption

Many of Britain's mainline train routes were partially shut as Network Rail carries out its biggest ever Christmas investment programme.

Great Western Railway urged passengers to complete journeys by Saturday 'at the latest' as London Paddington were closed between Christmas Eve and December 27.

The West Coast main line will be halted between Preston and Lancaster from Christmas Eve to December 27, with buses replacing trains.

Passengers travelling between London and Glasgow during this time are advised to go via Edinburgh, adding around an hour to journeys.

Coach operator National Express is running its largest ever Christmas schedule to meet increased demand from key locations such as Bournemouth, Cardiff, Leeds, Edinburgh, Portsmouth, Bristol, Glasgow and Manchester.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) were due to stage a series of walkouts on Virgin Trains West Coast, starting on Friday, but they were called off after a deal to end a row over pay.

A busy High Street in Canterbury, Kent, as shoppers purchase last minute presents on Christmas EveA busy High Street in Canterbury, Kent, as shoppers purchase last minute presents on Christmas Eve

A busy High Street in Canterbury, Kent, as shoppers purchase last minute presents on Christmas Eve

A busy High Street in Canterbury, Kent, as shoppers purchase last minute presents on Christmas EveA busy High Street in Canterbury, Kent, as shoppers purchase last minute presents on Christmas Eve

A busy High Street in Canterbury, Kent, as shoppers purchase last minute presents on Christmas Eve

Shoppers get some last minute presents for Christmas in Bristol on Christmas EveShoppers get some last minute presents for Christmas in Bristol on Christmas Eve

Shoppers get some last minute presents for Christmas in Bristol on Christmas Eve

People may have been leaving their shopping to the last minute, but traffic was unexpectedly light on the M5 south near Birmingham, as people appear to have made their journeys for the festive holidaysPeople may have been leaving their shopping to the last minute, but traffic was unexpectedly light on the M5 south near Birmingham, as people appear to have made their journeys for the festive holidays

People may have been leaving their shopping to the last minute, but traffic was unexpectedly light on the M5 south near Birmingham, as people appear to have made their journeys for the festive holidays

Very light Christmas Eve traffic on the M5 south near Birmingham, West MidlandsVery light Christmas Eve traffic on the M5 south near Birmingham, West Midlands

Very light Christmas Eve traffic on the M5 south near Birmingham, West Midlands

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Australia

Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms

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The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.

The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.

All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.

It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.

British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.

The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.

The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.

It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.

“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.

“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”

The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.

It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128

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Australia

Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official

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Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.

The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.

Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.

Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.

“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.

Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.

Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”

However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.

Australia’s tight restrictions

The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.

Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.

A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.

Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.

Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.

Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.

Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.

The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.

While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.

Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.

In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581

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Australia

Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection

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The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.

Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.

Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.

It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.

The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.

Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”

“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.

“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”

Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.

Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.

For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.

Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.

A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.

Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane

Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane

At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.

When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.

Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.

While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.

But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.

And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.

And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.

Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836

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