Rail strikes hamper shoppers as Boxing Day sales expected to fall

Passengers heading to Heathrow and Stansted airports will have to use buses or cars as trains are cancelled

Shoppers on Oxford Street in London. PA
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Rail strikes across the UK are expected to impede shoppers on the hunt for bargains in Boxing Day sales.

Hundreds of train departures usually run on December 26 following the Christmas Day shutdown.

But due to industrial action by rail workers this year, retailers are expected to feel the pinch.

While some shoppers may choose to stay at home and snap up bargains online, the lack of public transport is likely to mean more products are left on shelves.

Network Rail said Britain’s railways will remain closed for a second consecutive day due to a walkout by employees who are members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT).

The AA said it expects 15.2 million cars on British roads on Monday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

“Traffic is likely to build around shopping centres as lots of people seek a bargain in the sales, meanwhile football fans will travel to see their teams,” an AA spokesman said. “There is scope for localised traffic congestion and more short trips, but traffic should be dispersed throughout the day as people take their time after Christmas Day.”

The strikes are the latest round of walkouts in a long-running dispute between union bosses and the government over pay, conditions and jobs.

Members of the public were last week warned about significant disruption to Christmas travel.

Airport transfers such as the Heathrow Express and Stansted Express are usually among the most popular services on Boxing Day, but airline passengers will be forced to find other ways of getting to and from Britain’s airports.

Coach operators National Express and Megabus have experienced strong demand.

The RMT strikes will be felt by travellers across the UK, shutting down Merseyrail services across Merseyside among others.

ScotRail has historically operated a Boxing Day service in the Strathclyde area.

The operator also ran its first Boxing Day trains between Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High in 2021.

Northern Rail operated a service between Liverpool Lime Street and St Helens Central on Boxing Day last year.

Southern also served several routes on that day, connecting London Bridge with locations such as Brighton, Crystal Palace and East Croydon.

The cost of living crisis is also tipped to noticeably affect Boxing Day sales, with shoppers expected to spend 4 per cent less on Monday and during the post-Christmas period, data shows.

Research by Barclaycard Payments found that the average shopper intends to buy £229 ($243) worth of items in the post-Christmas sales period, a reduction of £18 compared with 2021.

Updated: December 26, 2022, 10:17 AM
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