RETAIL outlet centre Bicester Village had its busiest day ever on Boxing Day as more than 30,000 shoppers flocked to stock up on bargains.

Motorists waiting to get a parking space triggered huge queues which caused jams back to the A34 and the M40.

The centre provided a park-and-ride service with extra 500 spaces at Bicester Garrison and 300 at Bicester Community College but they were soon full.

Shoppers even abandoned their cars on the A41, causing police to shut one side of the road between the Oxford Road and London Road roundabouts.

Bicester Village spokesman Miranda Markham said it was the busiest day the centre had seen since opening in 1995.

She said: “It was a special, unprecedented day. It was exceptionally busy but we were expecting it. It is the busiest day in the year by a large margin.”

The centre also stayed open until 9pm on Monday for the first time.

Mrs Markham said the majority of visitors were tourists and some would have come to Bicester rather than London because of the Tube strikes.

She also said the mild weather helped to bring more out, adding: “We are not a sales shopping venue. It is more about tourists in particular wanting a day out.”

Yesterday the A41 roadside had been cordoned off to stop illegal parking but Bicester Village was much quieter.

Mrs Markham added: “I am pleased to say things are much more back to normal today. We have plenty of car park spaces.”

James Porter, Conservative leader at Bicester Town Council, said: “There are high days and low days and Boxing Day is one of those traditional days where everyone goes out shopping.

“It is unfortunate and disruptive when there are traffic jams like that, but on the other side of the coin the village does bring a lot of employment to the area.

“Generally the village does try hard to try to minimise it but on some days, like Boxing Day, there are a set of circumstances that make traffic jams severe.”

Mayor Rose Stratford said she did not witness the tailbacks, but added: “I do know in most circumstances Bicester Village does a lot to alleviate traffic, but it is out of their control.”