Retail footfall slumped on Boxing Day as the ongoing “structural shift” in festive spending drove shoppers online on Christmas Day itself.

Near closing time yesterday, total shopper numbers had tumbled 4.5% compared to Boxing Day 2016, according to data from footfall specialists Springboard.

The firm’s marketing and insights director Diane Wehrle attributed the decline to the impact of the Black Friday promotional frenzy and consumers spending more online.

She said: “What we have seen in the last couple of years is a structural shift in the Christmas trading period.”

Despite the shifting shopper habits, bargain-hunters started queuing outside branches of Next at midnight on Boxing Day, while a crowd started forming outside Selfridges on London’s Oxford Street at 2.30am.

Selfridges raked in £4m during the first three hours of its Sale alone, putting Boxing Day on course to be its biggest trading day of the year.

Analysts at Barclaycard had predicted that 34% of Brits would hit the high street in search of a bargain yesterday, up almost 50% from 23% a year ago.

Retailers slashed prices by as much as 90% on certain product lines, as business attempted to offload excess stock and woo shoppers into stores with rock-bottom prices.

Christmas day shoppers

But according to figures from ecommerce data experts PCA Predict, more consumers are going online on Christmas Day itself in search of bargains.

Online sales on Christmas Day climbed 5% compared to the same day last year, as more and more shoppers sacrificed time with their families to take advantage of early discounts.

According to PCA Predict’s data, 69% of shoppers spent online around 3pm, during the Queen’s speech.

Smartphones and tablets were the most popular devices used to shop, although 48% of consumers shopping between 6am and 7am used their desktops to check out.

PCA Predict head of marketing Chris Boaz said the Christmas Day online sales increase “defied expectation” following a 9% increase in ecommerce revenues throughout December, buoyed by the extended Black Friday promotional period.

“The past few years have seen a steady increase in consumers shopping on their mobile devices during Christmas, which means they can shop to their heart’s content without having to leave the dinner table,” Boaz added.

“Mobile-friendly websites and seamless checkout experiences give ecommerce retailers an edge, as illustrated by the increase in traffic to mobile devices.”