NOT too many people have tucked into roast dinners on Christmas Day and Boxing Day while camping out to be first in the queue for the start of a furniture sale.

The Mail, on Monday, December 27 in 1999, noted that Simon Hoon, of Holker Street, Barrow, had been sleeping outside Stollers' Furniture World since Christmas Eve to make sure he was first in the queue for a special millennium sale offer.

As first customer, the Royal Logistics Corp soldier, earned his family a free gift.

Mr Hoon said: "It was worth it to get £1,200 worth of three-piece suite for nothing."

He had spent his two nights in the cold reading, listening to the radio and watching TV until his batteries ran out.

Mr Hoon said: "I arrived on Christmas Eve and my mother-in-law brought my dinner on Christmas Day and my mother brought me another roast dinner on Boxing Day."

The Mail carried a summary of all the sales action and noted that most stores had started discounting on Monday, December 27.

It noted: "The action began on Boxing Day when the Sale of Century was launched at Woolworth."

Fashion buyers had to wait until 6am the following day for the start of the sale at Next in Barrow.

Store manager Helen Madeley said: "Most of the stock is in the sale and a lot of it is half price.

"The sales normally do very well and we usually have queues outside."

Debenhams had taken on temporary staff from October to cope with the Christmas rush.

The article noted: "The department store enjoyed a shopping frenzy the week before Christmas and was expecting a similar rush this week."

Barrow's Asda store had done its pre-Christmas recruiting in mid-November and took on 55 seasonal workers, with Tesco taking on another 15.

It was part of a Barrow employment boom which had seen almost 100 vacancies filled at the Jobcentre - pushing the number of people on the dole to the lowest level seen in years.

It was perhaps not surprising that the shops in Barrow did so much Christmas trade 20 years ago - with plenty of money around

The unemployment figure for Furness had dropped to around 1,600, a third of the 4,600 from three years earlier.

Jobcentre vacancies manager Sharon McKimm said: "It has really dropped quite dramatically.

"I could not have anticipated this at the beginning of the year."