BOLTON’S top retailers have thrown open their doors to welcome the festive bargain hunters.

Shoppers were able to splash the cash from 7am as the Market Place opened.

Debenhams led the way, with most other retailers in the revamped centre opening later.

The popular Next sale, however, will not start until tomorrow, when its doors open at 5am.

“We always look forward to bumper sales,” said Market Place manager Rod Neasham.

Town centre department store Whitakers opened from 9am to 5pm today as its sale started in earnest.

Boots opened its doors in Crompton Place at 10.30am and the other larger stores in the centre were also expected to be open. Most supermarkets in Bolton, however, opted not to open on Boxing Day.

Among those keeping the doors shut were Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and Asda, as well as Marks & Spencer and Toys R Us.

Tesco at Horwich closed at 6pm on Christmas Eve. However, it opened from 10am to 4pm today although Tesco stores at Walkden, Prestwich and Bury stayed shut on Boxing Day.

Many national chains opted to launch their Boxing Day sales up to 48 hours early. A growing list of major stores announced discounts of 50 per cent or more in sales to start as early as on Christmas Eve.

DIY chain B&Q offered 50 per cent off all its kitchens and bathrooms from 7am in stores and online, with discounts of up to 75 per cent on some other items.

John Lewis started its clearance sale online at 6pm yesterday — the earliest it has ever held the sale — while chemist chain Superdrug also started an online sale a few hours later, with discounts of up to 90 per cent.