Bargain mad shoppers have queued overnight and stormed the high street and shopping malls as the traditional Boxing Day sales got under way.

Up and down the country, excited shoppers got the tills ringing and plundered the aisles with feverish enthusiasm.

In London's West End, people queued overnight on Oxford Street in preparation for the stores opening. As the doors of Selfridges were opened thousands poured in and charged towards the items they had targeted.

Oxford Street, London's retail mecca, will see several hundred thousand customers pass through it. It was bustling this morning with shoppers from across the country and thousands of tourists, many from China. One man said the prices in the United Kingdom offered better value for money than in China and fighting for bargains in Oxford Street was an experience.

Scenes of shopping mayhem in London were replicated across the country. At Birmingham's Bullring Shopping Centre, thousands were ready and waiting from 12.20am for the off. Popular picks were the Next Boxing Day Sale, and the promise of knock-down prices at both Debenhams and Selfridges department stores.

Tim Walley, Bullring general manager, said: "Today we expect over 200,000 customers to flock to Bullring all eager to pick up some bargains. Three of the centre's biggest retailers, Selfridges, Debenhams and Next have all launched their iconic sales today. Mr Walley said the centre was expecting a further 150,000 shoppers on Thursday.

It was a similar story at Leicester's Highcross Shopping Centre, with shoppers queuing from 1.30am. More than 90,000 shoppers are expected through the centre's doors, and more again on Thursday when John Lewis starts its post-Christmas sales.

Jo Tallack, general manager, said: "We welcomed more than 1.5 million shoppers to Highcross in the run up to Christmas and expect them to continue coming through the doors for post-Christmas bargains between now and the near year. We expect to see more than 90,000 shoppers today and another busy day tomorrow when our flagship retailer, John Lewis, opens for its annual clearance event."

In Bristol, hundreds of people queued from the early hours of this morning to be among the first through the doors of Cabot Circus' Next store. Centre director Kevin Duffy said a long line of eager bargain hunters greeted Next staff as the clothing chain opened at 6am in Bristol for the start of its famous Boxing Day sale.

He said: "There were a couple of hundred people waiting at 6am, and three hours later the queues are still there waiting their turn to get in. Several other stores within the shopping centre opened at 8am, and there were lots of people queuing there, too."