Shoppers have inundated malls and shopping centres for Boxing Day sales, with people still queuing late in the afternoon.

A strong coffee, patience and slightly protruding elbows.

That appears to be the recipe to surviving the monstrous crowds that flocked to malls for Boxing Day sales.

Retailers and industry leaders are hopeful Thursday’s crowds will break records, with one of Melbourne’s busiest shopping centres full and queues surrounding Sydney’s shopping drawcards.

The enthusiastic crowds may produce the 5.6 per cent increase in Boxing Day spending predicted by the Australian National Retailer Association (ANRA).

In Sydney, police were called to control foot traffic in the inner city and barricades were erected.

Queues outside stores including adidas, Lacoste and Zara remained lengthy at 4pm.

While many people were happy to give up their time to wait in line to grab a bargain, shopper Marie Blandino was not convinced.

“It’s a bit of turn-off if you see the line,” she told AAP.

“I just keep going.”

The Guildford woman took a moment of reprieve in the shade, surrounded by her purchases, but admitted she was disappointed with the discounts.

“I thought it would be a bit more (discounted), to be honest,” she said.

At Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall, Penrith woman Alice, who did not want her surname published, said there was too much pushing and shoving.

“It’s been a bit of an overcrowded day,” she said.

“There is a bit of elbowing and nudging – you have to keep your elbows out.”

Department stores Myer and David Jones opened their flagship Sydney stores at 5am, with many forming queues before then.

It was a similar story for the smaller stores in the Queen Victoria Building.

“I have been here since 6am and there were quite a few people waiting outside stores,” QV Bar Cafe manager Nik Kalis said.

“A lot of people started the day with a strong coffee so they could shop harder.”

At Melbourne’s Chadstone Shopping Centre, general manager Anthony Rafaniello said he was pretty sure records would be set.

“Pre-Christmas was strong but this was far stronger,” he said.

“We probably couldn’t fit more people.”

ANRA chief executive Margy Osmond had on Thursday morning predicted a bumper Boxing Day.

“(It) probably makes it just about the best we have seen since the GFC,” she said.

Victorians were tipped to spend the most this Boxing Day, at $636.8 million.

In NSW, shoppers were expected to spend $545.4 million, followed by Queensland at $349.5 million.

Some stores took the unusual step of starting their Boxing Day sales online a day or two earlier, and many shoppers chose to bargain hunt from home, with 1.5 million people recorded on the David Jones website.

In comparison, a million people passed through David Jones’ flagship inner-city stores throughout the country on Boxing Day.

Cate Daniels, a David Jones operations manager, said more than 30,000 men’s business shirts, 75,000 towels, 90,000 pairs of shoes and 20,000 handbags were sold.

“Whilst we have had a strong start to clearance, it is early days, with only one day’s trading performance, so we need to trade through the entire clearance period to see if the early momentum is maintained,” she said in a statement.

Myer’s website was the source of frustrations vented on social media, with visitors being greeted by a colourful sign declaring technical difficulties.

Myer apologised on Twitter.