Shoppers have been out in force hunting for bargains in the post-Christmas sales.
Town centre traders in Braintree and Witham have been offering discounts this week in an attempt to lure customers.
Chain stores, such as Next, at Braintree Retail Park, in Charter Way, opened its doors at 6am on Boxing Day to welcome excited shoppers.
Natasha Short, 39, who owns Braintree’s High Street Barber Shop, was one of the customers who queued in the darkness.
She said: “It was definitely worthwhile - I got over £400 of items for £150."
Freeport was open throughout the Christmas to New Year period, including New Year's Day, as its retailers held sales.
Stuart Moss, deputy centre manager, said: “We have had a great year with a high single digit increase in footfall and a low double digit sales increase.
“Boxing Day was up on last year, we had a soft launch before Christmas but in terms of sales the period from Christmas to New Year is the biggest.”