Yesterday’s public sector strikes brought retailers a fillip as many people took advantage of a day off work to go shopping.

As about two million public sector staff including teachers and civil servants took industrial action, evidence suggested a surge in shopper numbers.

Shopper traffic monitor Experian Footfall reported a footfall rise of almost 40% yesterday, year-on-year. Footfall said: “The difference this year was that with no snow, public sector workers and others taking the day off work to care for their children off school, took advantage of the strike action and opted to do Christmas shopping, resulting in a impressive increase of 38.31% compared to the same day last year.

“The boost in levels of Footfall seen on Wednesday will have been a welcome relief to retailers when considering previous week’s performances. However, the impact of Wednesday will be that the remainder of the week may become muted as would be shoppers for the weekend may have chosen to make their purchases earlier, in effect bringing forward the weekends footfall and sales.

At the Bluewater mall in Kent, footfall leaped 7% and the increase was put down to the strikes.

Bluewater assistant general manager told the Daily Mail: “I have no idea why we’ve been so busy but I would suggest that some of the shoppers today were public sector workers and parents with children who aren’t at school.”

Tim Lamb, general manager of Gateshead’s Metro Centre told the Daily Telegraph it had been “as busy as I’d expect for the last shopping day before Christmas.”

The BBC reported that vehicles were brought to a standstill on the M8 as they queued at the exit to Braehead Shopping Centre on the outskirts of Glasgow.