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Man killed amid Britain’s Boxing Day sales

- Associated Press - Monday, December 26, 2011

LONDON (AP) — A teenager was fatally stabbed Monday after an argument broke out in a sports store on London's most famous retail street as thousands of shoppers flocked to Britain's capital seeking post-Christmas bargains.

The killing of the 18-year-old man on Oxford Street did little to deter shoppers crowding into neighboring stores in the landmark shopping district. Bargain hunters also largely were untroubled by a subway strike that badly disrupted the city's public transport services.

Selfridges — close to the scene of Monday's stabbing and one of Britain's most popular department stores — reported its biggest-ever first hour of trading Monday morning, while the New West End Co., which represents traders on central London's shopping streets, reported 15 million pounds ($23.5 million) in sales in the first three hours of trading.

"As ever, the West End's Boxing Day sales have attracted shoppers in their hundreds of thousands," said Jace Tyrrell of the New West End.

Sue West, Selfridges' director of operations, said that ladies' accessories and jewelry were the most popular items snapped up. "Despite Tube disruptions ... we had record sales in our first hour," Ms. West said.

London's air ambulance helicopter had earlier rushed to the street following the stabbing, but the teenage victim died before medics could administer help.

Police, who erected a tent outside a Foot Locker sports store as they carried out investigations, said 10 people had been arrested in connection with the death.

The circumstances of the killing are unclear so far, but police said it appeared the incident began inside the sports store and continued on Oxford Street, with hundreds of shoppers looking on.

On London's subway network, the ASLEF train drivers union staged a one-day strike to demand extra pay and additional time off for members working on the public holiday.

Despite the disruptions, huge crowds — some lining up outside stores from midnight — rushed into department stores in London and other British cities as soon as doors opened early Monday.

The London Underground, the organization that manages the subway system, condemned the strike, saying it was pointless and demonstrated "a complete disregard for our customers." Authorities said extra buses were running in main shopping areas to cater to the increased flow of travelers on one of the year's busiest shopping days.

The ASLEF union has warned it plans to stage three more strikes in January and February if the dispute is not resolved.

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