Shoppers started queuing for Boxing Day bargains from 4am on Saturday despite Boris Johnson advising people to avoid crowds as the sales start.

Non-essential shops remain open for business on the high street in Tiers 1, 2 and 3 with Next stores across England welcoming keen customers in from 5am.

The prime minister had advised people avoid hitting the busy annual post-Christmas sales as a new mutant strain of coronavirus has caused England's south east to move into Tier 4.

A queue for Next was pictured on Saturday morning in North Tyneside where shoppers were organised to keep their distance from one another.

It was still dark when photographers snapped eager Next customers leave the shop in Liverpool with bags full to the brim.

Large crowds of shoppers out in force hunting for bargains on Newcastle's Northumberland Street today
Large crowds of shoppers out in force hunting for bargains on Newcastle's Northumberland Street today

Security guards were deployed in Birmingham to ensure social distancing guidelines were followed for the big rush outside Next where people waited to enter, behind metal barriers.

Speaking from Downing Street last week, the Prime Minister said: "Whatever your plans for Christmas, please think carefully about avoiding crowds in the Boxing Day sales, and no one should be gathering in large groups to see in the New Year.”

Despite the waves of shoppers wasting no time in snapping up discounted items in Next, experts estimate a total of £1.9billion will be splashed online in sales on Saturday.

The 15 million Brits expected to browse the net for reduced goods could help dwarf average online Boxing Day sales by four times which would beat the UK Black Friday record.

Next in Leicester was one of the stores to have early morning queues on Saturday

With coronavirus restrictions forcing many shops to shut, the high street will experience its worst ­December 26 since the turn of the millennium, with spending set to fall by 56% on last year.

A VoucherCodes.co.uk study with the Centre for Retail Research revealed that Brits spend up to £3.2 billion in total, with £1.4 billion going into stores.

Not all shops that can open will do so.

Asda, John Lewis, Aldi, Home Bargains and Homebase will all stay closed for Boxing Day.