Around 1,000 bargain hunters braved torrential rain in readiness for the annual Boxing Day sale at Next at a shopping centre in Wrexham.

The queue began to snake around Eagles Meadow from 2.45am as sale addicts waited patiently for the doors to be thrown open just over three hours later.

According to Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley, dramatic reductions of between 55 per cent and 38 per cent in car parking charges announced on Christmas Eve were a big help in attracting such big crowds.

First in line for the 6am start were  Wrexham mum Lizzie Hughes and her friend, receptionist Sarah Rowland, also of Wrexham.

Lizzie, who is expecting her second child in June, said she was after clothes for her three-year-old daughter, Demi.

She said: “You have to be here early if you want the bargains. If you don’t get in quickly all the popular sizes have gone and you can miss out.

“I want to stock up on clothes for my daughter now. I know I can save a lot of money by doing it this way, it’s well worth it.”

Sarah Rowland was looking for boys’ clothes for her three year-old son and said that queuing in the rain was well worth it.

She added: “You just have to get here early otherwise you can miss out. I can get my son’s clothes for almost a year and at really good prices.”

The Next sale was a family affair for siblings Tasha, Jordan and Nathan Collins, all of Wrexham, and Nathan’s fiancé, Shannon Manuel, also of Wrexham.

Tasha, a teaching assistant and Shannon, a hairdresser, bought perfume, handbags and clothes while Nathan stocked up on clothes and pyjamas.

Tasha said: “I got some really good bargains and I’m made up. It was well worth getting up very early. I’ve saved a fortune.”

Shannon added: “Definitely worth it  and worth the queue. I got some good bargains and I’m well pleased.”

Wrexham housewife Julie Thresher arrived at Eagles Meadow before 5am and was delighted with the bargains she snapped up.

She said: “I’m really pleased; I did the household goods section first and bought cushions, pictures, glasses and stuff for my daughters and myself.

“Then I’m heading back in and hitting the clothes sections. You can save a fortune and it’s really worth it. I’m delighted with what I have bought.”

Lisa Needham, 24, of Oswestry, who works as a body piercer, and her sister, Rachel Jones, 29, who works in a Wrexham bar, were equally thrilled with the sale bargains.

Lisa said: “I have a son of one and daughter who is six. I’ve got some great clothes and at amazing prices. I’m really chuffed and I’ve saved a fortune.”

Rachel added: “It’s amazing how much you can save. I come every year, never miss, and it’s so worth it.”

Coleg Cambria student Rakibul Hassan, 18, bought cut-price for himself and his dad.

He said: “I came last year and it’s definitely worth it. I got trousers, t-shirts and shirts at really good prices. It’s definitely worth getting here early.”

Sisters Gwen Powell-Jones and Elin Atherton and their friend, Meinir Tudor, travelled more than one-and-a-half hours through driving rain to reach  Eagles Meadow and the Next sale from their homes in Trawsfynydd, Gwynedd but say it was worth it.

Gwen, who had a baby daughter, Anni, in July stocked up on clothes for her daughter.

She said: “We come every year and it’s worth it because the savings are incredible. I’m really pleased.”

Meinir added: “I bought household goods as well as clothes.  It’s a long way to come but worth it. I managed to find some really good bargains.”

Elin said: “I’m sure we will be back next year, it’s a tradition now. The bargains make it worthwhile I got loads of clothes and couldn’t be more pleased.”

The parking reductions have been introduced after the lease held by car park operators Vinci was terminated by mutual agreement with another company taking it over.

The new operators are multi-national car park specialists Secure Parking who have more than a million car parking spaces in 11 countries world-wide.

Kevin Critchley said: “I am amazed so many people came so early given the weather but having said that there were some brilliant bargains to be had and the fantastic reductions in car parking charges were also a big help.

“We have had a really busy run up to Christmas and business has been very brisk.

“We have some very happy shoppers –   a lot of people have saved themselves hundreds of pounds so it really was worth the effort.

“But those who did not get up before the crack of dawn need not worry – there are plenty of bargains left.”