Town-centre traders enjoyed a cracker of a Christmas.

Huge crowds turned out for the start of Boxing Day sales. About 600 bargain hunters queued for Next in Keighley’s Airedale Shopping Centre to open its doors at 6am.

Steve Seymour, the shopping centre manager, said: “Quite a few had been queuing from as early as 4am, and it heralded the start of a bumper day of trading at the centre.

“It wasn’t just Next that enjoyed the crowds, with people pouring through the doors of our other stores as soon as they opened.

“Having spoken to several stores, trade has been brisk across the board. It is one of the busiest Boxing Days I can remember.

“It may have been helped by the return of a Boxing Day bus service, which was run as a trial after it was last operated 17 years ago. The buses certainly appeared to be busy as they dropped off and picked up in Towngate.”

Fashion shop Pink V Blue, which recently moved into the centre, said it was delighted with the level of trade.

Owner Mark Dale said: “The sales have gone really well, and on Boxing Day my takings were about 40 per cent up on a normal trading day.

“I am really pleased with how things have been going since I moved to the centre.”

About 100 people were queuing outside Boots for it to open on Boxing Day.

Manager Anne Sands said: “We had a lot of extra staff on hand to make sure we kept the stock levels up, but we still had to work hard to keep up! Our takings are definitely up on the same time last year, so we are really pleased.”

Mr Seymour said the centre’s footfall figures for the week before Christmas were 12.4 per cent up on the corresponding period in 2012.

Among those opening units just before Christmas were Keighley Cougars and Burger King. “Burger King opened up on Christmas Eve, and the arrival of the global fast food chain adds to the variety of eateries we have at the centre,” added Mr Seymour.