It was expected to be one of the busiest shopping days of the year - and Boxing Day morning didn't disappoint.

Tens of thousands of bargain hunters descended on shopping aisles across Hampshire today as the traditional sales got underway.

Some queued from the early hours of this morning just to be first to try to bag a bargain.

More than 2,000 people queued outside WestQuay in Southampton before 6am to get the best deals.

Tills were ringing at shopping malls and retail parks across the county as some of the nation's biggest retailers look to shift their leftover 2012 stock.

Andy Collyer, general manager at WestQuay, said: “It’s certainly been a busy start to the post Christmas sales at WestQuay, with shoppers queuing from 3.15am this morning for the renowned Next sale.

“By the time the store opened at 6am, there were over 2,000 people eager to snap-up the first of the clothing and homeware bargains.

“Elsewhere around the centre queues began forming, as other popular stores, including Marks and Spencer opened its doors at 8am.

“We are expecting a busy Boxing Day here at WestQuay, and for this to continue for the next few days.”

Tens of thousands are expected to descend on WestQuay in Southampton, The Swan Centre in Eastleigh and Fareham Shopping Centre with a huge range of designer clothes, shoes and department store goods expected to be available at knockdown prices.

The shopping frenzy comes as the British Retail Consortium declared that high street spending in the run-up to Christmas had been “acceptable but not exceptional”.

Spending over the final weekend before Christmas hit the predicted £5 billion nationally.

Last-minute bargain hunters were already cashing in on internet sales on Christmas Eve as online retailers slashed their prices earlier than the traditional Boxing Day sales.

The Marks & Spencer online sale began at noon on December 24 with John Lewis following suit at 5pm and Currys/PC World at 7pm.

Online giant Amazon was due to start its sale on Christmas morning, a day earlier than usual.