Queuing for Britain: Thousands wait for TWO HOURS in mile-long lines outside Sports Direct, Primark and John Lewis as shops see 51% surge in customers – with towels and egg cups most highly-prized purchases
- Huge queues form outside shops – but battle for bargains saw social distancing fail at some high-profile stores
- Shops including John Lewis and Zara slash prices by up to 70% in bid to offload £15billion of unsold stock
- Boris Johnson believes lifting of restrictions will help economy bounce back after three months of lockdown
- Sunday trading laws could be relaxed after GDP crashed by over 20% in April with bad news expected in May
- Two-thirds of people are too worried to enter shops and one in five believe they won’t do so again, ONS says
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
Tens of thousands of Britons hit the high street today where they faced mile-long queues and two hour waits with footfall up 51.7 per cent in a week as shops reopened for the first time in three months.
Retail analysts Springboard also said the number of people visiting retail parks and shopping centres in England was up by 41.7 per cent compared to last Monday. However, with many shoppers still worried about going out, it was still down a third on the same day last year.
Although footfall has increased more than 50 per cent in a week, a significant proportion of outlets in retails parks and shopping centres were not open at all last week.
Younger shoppers were out in force queuing overnight or arriving at dawn in some cases just to be first in line when Primark and trainer shops such as JD Sports and Footlocker opened today.
But older shoppers appear to have stayed away with more traditional high street stores such as M&S quieter while John Lewis said that items such as egg cups, china sets, towels and pillow cases were flying off the shelves as were more expensive items such as TVs and sofas.
In Taunton, the line of people waiting to enter the town’s Sports Direct was so long they were asked to stand in a space previously marked for people to cycle or walk down during lockdown while in Sunderland the line stretched for more than a mile. In Plymouth, people waited for up to two hours to enter the Devon city’s Sports Direct.
Britain took a large leap out of lockdown today as English shops opened with up to 70 per cent reductions – but the lure of bargains led to the collapse of social distancing at Nike’s flagship store.
Tens of thousands more people also flooded on to public transport as masks became mandatory and secondary schools welcomed students for the first time in more than three months this morning.
Shoppers desperate to hit the high street formed huge socially distanced queues after dawn today as the majority of stores reopened this morning – but it was so busy at the Nike store on Oxford Circus it opened an hour early as the two-metre rule went out the window when people jumped the queue and tried to force themselves through the door.
Nike fans flocked to the store hoping to buy some limited edition Nike Air Jordan 1 High Zoom trainers, which can cost up to £400, but it appears many were also there early to beat the queues and pick up ‘click and collect’ items bought via the sports company’s website.
NEWCASTLE: Shoppers queue outside Fenwick in Newcastle today, as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed
BRIGHTON: Shoppers queue outside a Sports Direct store today as non-essential shops open for the first time in three months
LONDON: Others sat on the floor outside a Sports Direct on Oxford Street as they waited to enter the store this afternoon
NEWCASTLE: Shoppers on Northumberland Street, Newcastle, as non-essential shops in England open their doors today
TAUNTON: Hundreds of shoppers were seen queuing outside the sports retailer after non-essential shops opened for the first time in three months today
BIRMINGHAM: People were waiting outside Primark for hours to get ready before the opening time, as Boris Johnson urged people to support business, following blue lines in the pavement
RUSHDEN LAKES: Queues for Primark at the Northamptonshire shopping complex spilled into the surrounding area as shoppers waited to enter
NEWCASTLE: A resident is excited to be out of the house and at the shops as he waited in long queues to enter the city’s Primark
KINGSTON: Excited customers queue outside a John Lewis store as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March
KINGSTON: Social distancing markers are seen on the ground outside the department store as shoppers line up two metres apart
NEWCASTLE: The city centre was teeming with shoppers this afternoon as shopping largely returned to normal
LONDON: The junction of Oxford Street and Regent Street as shops opened again today – slide to see it empty in April after Boris Johnson imposed lockdown
BLUEWATER: The vast shopping mall in Kent is also open today (pictured at 11am) – slide to see how the same car park looked during lockdown on April 27
The brand saw a boost in popularity after the Netflix documentary ‘The Last Dance’, which chronicled the life of NBA icon Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls basketball team, aired in May.
Tom Jackson, 19, told MailOnline: ‘The problem is that people have been pushing in. We’ve seen a few people jump the queue at the front, which isn’t really fair. It’s been a bit chaotic to be honest. I’m not very impressed.’ His sister Anna added: ‘We are trying to observe a two metre distance from everyone else but it’s proving impossible because if we do leave a gap, people start pushing in. We have face masks on, as do most people in the queue, but it can’t be good for us to be grouped together so closely when we are still in a pandemic.’
There was also anger at the exclusive Bicester Village outlet mall where social distancing wasn’t maintained. One shopper said: ‘@bicestervillage so is this your idea of infection control?! What a joke! @ThamesVP get yourself down there, plenty of fines 2 be handed out! @BorisJohnson maybe rethink ur plan for some companies who CLEARLY don’t give a s**t about anything but money’
Desperate fashion chains are sitting on as much as £15billion of unsold stock they are keen to shift with the largest queues appearing to be outside Primark in Birmingham, Marble Arch, London, and Doncaster this morning – with some even camping overnight. In Liverpool their store opened 45 minutes early for browsing at 7.15am because hundreds had turned up – while in Brighton people started arriving at 3am.
Staff at Primark’s 153 shops opening today are greeting customers at the store and letting them in one by one so as to not make the shop too busy. Stickers on the floor and notices above clothes racks warn customers to observe social distancing measures while all fitting rooms remain closed. There is one entrance and two exits and as shoppers go in they are asked if they need any hand sanitizing gel.
Rival stores including Zara, John Lewis and Debenhams have slashed prices by as much as 70 per cent in a bid to lure shoppers back but experts predicted that footfall will still only be at 20 per cent of usual pre-lockdown levels in central London.
The Government is also considering an emergency cut to VAT and a relaxation of Sunday trading laws to lure more people from home to the shops, with road traffic also up six per cent in a week to 27 per cent today – but still down around a third of the pre-lockdown rush hour a year ago.
But despite stores offering huge discounts, one-way systems and quarantined footwear for returning shoppers, data from the Office of National Statistics suggests that a massive 64 per cent of people in England are too afraid to leave their house. And twenty per cent of people said they would never step foot in a shop again, according to a separate survey.
As the UK tries edged back towards normality today:
- Thousands of extra police and staff have been deployed across England’s public transport network today as new rules which make wearing face coverings compulsory come in to play. The strict new law means passengers on Tubes, buses, trains and planes must wear a face covering from today or risk being turned away, or being slapped with a £100 fine;
- Secondary school pupils with GCSE and A-level exams next year are returning to classes today, but only a quarter of Years 10 and 12 are allowed on site at one time due to social-distancing;
- EasyJet took to the skies again today for the first time since its planes were grounded on March 30 – with passengers facing a raft of new coronavirus safety measures including mandatory face masks and an alcohol ban;
- Families’ staycation plans are in chaos over a lack of safety advice that could sabotage the reopening of holiday sites in the first week of July;
- A decision on the two-metre rule will take ‘weeks’, ministers warned today – despite warnings of mass redundancies unless it is eased within days;
- World Health Organization director again warns the UK not to lift lockdown too fast until contact tracing system is ‘robust’ and ready to be ‘aggressively’ scaled up.
Shops opening today will offer hand sanitiser stations and many will enforce infection control by quarantining unbought items for 72 hours after they have been handled. Staff in high-vis jackets and PPE will ensure shoppers are kept two metres apart, browsing and handling items will be discouraged and there will be a plea not to use cash. There will also be limits on the numbers allowed through the door, which means queues are likely.
Most till staff will be behind glass or plastic screens to protect them from anyone who may have coronavirus.
Boris Johnson has urged the country to return to the high street and ‘shop with confidence’ when non-essential stores reopen today with huge price cuts. The Prime Minister said he was ‘very optimistic’ that the lifting of restrictions would help the economy bounce back from three months of coronavirus lockdown.
BRISTOL: Shoppers join two metre distanced queues to enter shops including Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct superstore
PLYMOUTH: Shoppers queued through a car park to enter a Sports Direct store after it reopened to the public this morning
LONDON: The lure of bargain trainers and clothes at the Nike store in Oxford Circus saw social distancing abandoned today as the doors opened
LONDON: Shoppers try to gain access to a Topshop store in London today as retailers reopen following months of lockdown
LONDON: People queued outside Nike Town on Oxford Circus – but the two-metre rule failed among the shoppers waiting to grab some bargain sports shoes and clothing despite advice from staff
LONDON: Customers, many not wearing masks rushed to enter the store as soon as possible as it opened for the first time in months
LONDON: There was also a rush to enter the Nike store in Oxford Street this morning where social distancing failed with some customers appearing to grap and jostle
LONDON: Police would later arrive outside the busy Nike Town store in Oxford Street this morning after masses of people
LONDON: Customers return to Cad & The Dandy bespoke tailors for new suits on Saville Row in London this afternoon
BIRMINGHAM: Pictured left, a shopper wearing a PPE suit arrives at Primark in Birmingham as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March. SHEPHERD’S BUSH: Right, at Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush staff were seen taking temperatures
LONDON: After three months of being almost empty, Oxford Street looked back to normal as shoppers went out to spend
LONDON: A shopper laden with bags walks down Great Marlborough Street as Britons hit the non-essential shops
BOURNEMOUTH: Hundreds of shoppers form a massive queues for shops on Bournemouth High Street this morning
LONDON: Customers in the Apple the store in Covent Garden opens in central London this afternoon
LONDON: A handwashing station has been erected in Piccadilly Circus today as people try to return to the West End as shops reopen
LONDON: Harrods was open today but unlike some high-end stores such as Apple there didn’t appear to be an temperature checks. In order to maintain a one-way system shoppers enter via the staff entrance
NEWCASTLE: A shop worker with a tape measure marks out 2 metres distance with a colleague outside the 3 store in Northumberland street
NEWCASTLE: Socially distanced queues formed around the Fenwick store in Newcastle this morning as people rushed out
BIRMINGHAM: A customer carrying bags of shopping leaves Primark in Birmingham as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March
LONDON: Customers show their excitement as they are allowed in the Selfridges department store in London this morning
YORK: Glyn Meek, a fragrance specialist at Fenwick’s store in York, speaks with a colleague ahead of opening this morning
The A3 in south-west London was jammed with traffic during rush hour – slide the tab to see how quiet it was three months ago at the same spot
LONDON: The rules apply to all passengers on trains, buses, Tubes, coaches, trams, planes or ferries. Pictured: Passengers wear face coverings on a tube in Canning Town in London
NEWCASTLE: A school pupil wearing a face mask on a bus in Newcastle this morning as some pupils returned to school
GATWICK: EasyJet’s first flight took off from London Gatwick at 6.53am and arrived just after 8am. Pictured are passengers being greeted onto the plane at Gatwick
LONDON: People even queued to enter London as UK Zoos also reopened to the public. Pubs and restaurants are expected to open in July
A young visitor greets the penguins at London Zoo on its first day of reopening yesterday
SALISBURY: The Very Reverend Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean of Salisbury, welcomes visitors to the Cathedral as churches are able to welcome people for private prayer
LONDON: People have their temperatures taken as they queue up to enter the Apple Store at Brent Cross in north London
Which shops have opened today – and what places remain closed for now?
- Garden centres
- Takeaway/delivery food outlets
Opened on June 1
- Outdoor markets
- Car showrooms
Opening on June 15
- Indoor markets
- Clothing and shoe shops
- Toy stores
- Furniture shops (although some have already been slowly opening over the Bank Holiday with strict social distancing in place)
- Electronics stores
- Photography studios
- Auction houses
- Places of worship
Staying shut for now
- Restaurants, bars and pubs
- Cafes and canteens
- Holiday accommodation such as hotels and B&Bs
- Hairdressers, barbers, beauty and nail salons
- Playgrounds, outdoor gyms and outdoor pools
- Piercing and tattoo parlours
- Caravan parks (commercial)
- Community centres
- Museums and galleries
- Cinemas, theatres and concert halls
- Bingo halls, casinos and betting shops
- Spas and massage parlours
- Skating rinks and funfairs
- Indoor fitness studios, gyms and swimming pools
- Indoor arcades, bowling alleys and soft play centres
Speaking during a visit to the Westfield shopping centre in east London yesterday, the PM said he hoped to see a ‘gradual’ build-up of people visiting the high street.
‘I am very optimistic about the opening up that’s going to be happening,’ he said.
‘I think people should shop and shop with confidence but they should of course observe the rules on social distancing and do it as safely as possible.’
Nike Town on Oxford Street was forced to let customers in an hour earlier than planned to stop overcrowding outside the store.
Two hundred shoppers had been queuing for the store to open at 11am resulting in a dangerous bottleneck by the front doors. With crowds not observing two metre social distancing regulations, Nike staff were forced to start letting customers in at 10am to avoid a crush.
Shoppers started queuing at Primark on Oxford Street at 8am this morning.
Among them was nurse Norma Chingwaru, 60, who had just finished her shift looking after a private patient in St John’s Wood.
She said: ‘I’m so pleased to be able to go and buy clothes in a shop again after so many months of not being able to.
‘That’s why when I finished my shift I came here straight away rather than going home first. I only needed some leggings but I wanted to be in as soon as the shop opened.
‘There are stickers on the floor warning people to observe social distancing and there are hand sanitizers dotted around the store.
‘However, not everyone was observing the two-metre rule, a few other shoppers were stood next to me looking at clothes. It’s going to be hard to enforce I think.
‘But I’m glad to be getting back to some of My old routine. It makes me feel a lot better.’
Six-months pregnant Mercedes Ashford, 22, from Kennington, South London, had bought two large luggage cases and some baby clothes.
She is supposed to be going on holiday with husband and said: ‘It’s good that I can at last shop again, even if it’s just to buy some luggage and some bits and bobs for the baby.
‘To be honest, it didn’t feel all that different. There’s stickers on the floor and notices all round the shop warning people to stay two metres apart and there’s no changing rooms open but other than that it was normal.
‘I wasn’t wearing a face mask but the staff were and a lot of the other customers.
‘It was busy but not heaving, so I could keep in my own little space without getting too close to anyone else.
‘If this is the future of shopping now, it’s not too bad.’
No mask, no ride! 3,000 extra police and transport staff will stop passengers without face-coverings as millions return to work
Strict new laws regarding face coverings on public transport come into play today – with 3,000 extra staff, including police officer, being brought in to enforce the rules
Thousands of extra police and staff have been deployed across England’s public transport network today as new rules which make wearing face coverings compulsory come in to play.
The strict new law means passengers on Tubes, buses, trains and planes must wear a face covering from today or risk being turned away, or being slapped with a £100 fine.
But within hours of the rule coming in, passengers have already been seen attempting to enter stations without them, while one man who had a face covering was seen wearing it away from his mouth while sitting on a Tube.
Police officers have also been seen handing out masks to those attempting to enter stations without one.
It comes as more than 3,000 extra staff, including police officers, have been brought in to enforce the rule – which applies to all passengers on trains, buses, Tubes, coaches, trams, planes or ferries. Children under the age of 11 and those with certain health conditions or disabilities are exempt.
One passenger who travelled on a tube today and saw ‘everyone wearing a mask’ said the measure was ‘reassuring’.
The new rule comes as the government continues to strip back its draconian lockdown laws in place of looser restrictions, which included allowing people to meet with friends inside a ‘social bubble’ – which was brought in at the weekend.
Non-essential shops are also set to open today for the first time since March when the lockdown rules were imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Care worker Dilek Gurgur, 31, who was one of the shoppers wearing a mask, had bought some clothes for her two children.
She said: ‘I thought I was going to have to queue for ages and that we’d all be told where to stand but it wasn’t like that at all.
‘There was one way in and two exits out and although you were warned to maintain social distancing you could go pretty much anywhere in the shop.
‘I’m not a typical woman, I don’t really like shopping but I felt it was important to go today and pick up a few bits and help kickstart the economy.’
One shopper said being required to queue is causing her to think twice about shopping as she waited outside the Apple store on Regent Street in central London.
Kristina Taylor, who works in finance, joined a line of customers ahead of the store’s opening at 10am, hoping to have her iPhone screen protector replaced.
‘I just need to have my screen protector replaced, that’s all. It’s just something that has been niggling me since day one,’ the 40-year-old told the PA news agency.
Asked if she was pleased about shops reopening, she said: ‘Yes and no. I will pop by Primark to see the queue. But not keen on all of this queueing, it makes me think twice about whether I need something from that shop.
‘Luckily it’s the time of year when the weather is kind to us too.’
Eager bargain hunters started queueing from 6am as shops opened for business in Westfield, west London, one of the capital’s premier shopping malls.
Stores such as Primark, Zara, John Lewis and even top end brands like Louis Vuitton slashed prices by as much as 70%, sparking frenzy amongst shoppers usually associated with New Year sales.
Aminul Islam, 25 and Meryem Kartal, 26, revealed that they set off from their home in east London at 5am so that they could be first in the queue to enter Primark.
Ms Kartal, who works in a university hall of residence revealed that she had taken the day off to go shopping.
She said: ‘I’ve been desperate to go shopping, especially in Primark. I’ve really missed this store because you get some great bargains here.
‘I don’t do any online shopping and prefer visiting stores so haven’t bought anything during the lockdown. It’s great to be out buying things again, it feels as if normal life is slowly returning to normal.’
Mr Islam, a London Underground worker who was on a day off said: ‘We’ve been planning this from the moment the Government announced that non-essential shops could open. We’re really happy that we can go shopping again, it’s just really nice to be out and about.’
LONDON: Spot the difference: The junction of Oxford Street and Regent Street as shops opened again today – slide to see it empty in April after Boris Johnson imposed lockdown
LONDON: The Selfridges store in central London today appeared fairly quiet as stores limit the number of people entering
LONDON: In the busy shoes section of Selfridges social distancing became difficult as people queued for purchases
LONDON: The Nike store at Oxford Circus was one of the shops to have problems when more shoppers than expected turned up for bargains
OLD TRAFFORD: The Manchester United club store at Old Trafford appeared to have the opposite problem with no-one queuing to enter this morning
LONDON: Harrods in Knightsbridge also reopened today but the queues were not as busy as at lower-priced stores today
MANCHESTER: In a scene that Britons will have to get used to, people stand on social distancing spots and wait to be waved into Primark in Manchester city centre
MILTON KEYNES: Primark was clearly the destination of choice for many this morning, with this huge queue at the MK1 Shopping & Leisure Park in Milton Keynes
BIRMINGHAM: Most of the people queuing in Birmingham appeared to be younger Britons, many in masks, who have missed their shopping fix
HANLEY: Peter Brassington, owner of Brassington Bros shoe store, measures a child’s feet with a screen between them
NEWCASTLE: Shoppers are back in force today and staff clapped them as they arrived at Fenwick department store in Newcastle
KINGSTON: Customers browse in the homeware section at John Lewis in Kingston as many stores admitted they simply can’t clean everything people touch
YORK: Customers queue to enter Marks and Spencer in York this morning – as the clothing section reopens today – although people cannot try on clothes in store
LEEDS: People queue ahead of the opening of Primark in Leeds as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March
ALTRINCHAM: Members of the public queue outside a Waterstones store on June 15 in Altrincham a shops reopened after three months
BIRMINGHAM: Two women walk past Primark wearing masks as shoppers queue to try and pick up a bargain as many shops reopen today
LONDON: Shoppers will see staff behind plexiglass screens at the tills to protect staff, like these installed in a London branch of Waterstones
LONDON: Bromley High Street in south London was busy at 9am today as people took in the shops and enjoyed the good weather
ALTRINCHAM: Members of the public queue outside WH Smith in Altrincham, Cheshire, this morning
‘That’s NOT back to school!’: Parents’ fury as secondary pupils head back in for ‘one hour appointments’ before the summer holiday
A student being welcomed back to Plymouth City College in Devon this morning, where strict social distancing measures were in place
Secondary school pupils with GCSE and A-level exams next year are returning to classes today, but only a quarter of Years 10 and 12 are allowed on site at one time due to social-distancing.
The Government wants pupils to have ‘face-to-face’ support before their exams next summer, but the amount of contact time will vary considerably across the country.
Some schools are only launching ‘weekly contact sessions’ for teenagers or prioritising children who have ‘struggled’ with remote learning, while around one in eight are set to remain closed.
One mother, Sonja Halsey, said her children had been invited for one appointment lasting just one hour. ‘That’s not back to school!’ she wrote on Twitter.
In Liverpool this morning, secondary schools visited by MailOnline continued to look as they have for the last four months – closed for business.
The Bluecoat High School, Liverpool College, St Hilda’s CE High School, St Margaret’s CofE Academy, King David High School, Childwall Sixth Form, Calderstones School, and Archbishop Blanch School were all quiet with few signs of life.
The couple said that they were planning on buying pyjamas, face masks and ‘any other bargains’ that they can get hold of.
Primark staff opened the store an hour earlier than the scheduled time of 10am as queues started forming.
Along with other stores in Westfield, new measures had been put in place including a one-way system around the shop, with staff in high-vis jackets and PPE instructing shoppers to sanitise their hands before entering and ensure that they remain two metres apart.
Natalie Watson, 41 who had just spent £89 on clothes for her children said: ‘I wasn’t nervous about going shopping and things have been arranged very well so I felt very safe.
‘I needed to get some clothes for the kids because I don’t do online shopping. It’s a good move to open these shops because it gives people something to do and it’s good for the economy.’
Make-up artist Sophie Jancso, 28 revealed that after visiting Primark she was planning to spend the rest of the day in Westfield shopping.
She said: ‘I’ve been very excited about this. It’s wonderful to be able to go out shopping again.
“I had to return some things that I bought before the start of the lockdown in Primark. I bought some summer shorts, although I’m not going anywhere for my holiday and some other stuff to wear around the house.’
George Safiani, 67 visited Primark to buy a £4 pair of slippers.
He said: ‘I’ve been waiting to get these since the start of the lockdown. The ones I’ve got at the moment have been ruined because I’ve been wearing them all the time at home.
‘I’m really happy with my new slippers. And I’m also really happy that I managed to get into Primark early and avoid all the rush.’
One of the longest queues in Westfield was outside Zara, where around 100 people waited patiently for the store to open.
Nadeen Conly, 24, said: ‘I’m not after anything in particular. I’m just looking forward to browsing around the shop.
‘I’m really happy that Zara and other shops have opened because I’ve really missed them.’
Customers entering the Apple store had their temperature checked and were also asked a series of questions by staff on if they were exhibiting any coronavirus symptoms.
Paolo Fanelli, 37, a waiter, arrived at the store at 9am said: ‘I just wanted to come to the Apple store and have a look around. I don’t have the money to buy anything here because I’m on furlough and don’t know what’s going to happen to my job.’
He joked: ‘It’s nice to visit the shops again and look at stuff that I can’t afford to buy.’
While the majority of shoppers were after a post-lockdown bargain, some were also looking to splash out on more expensive designer goods, where prices had also been reduced.
Ministers say review of two-metre rule will take ‘weeks’ as hotels, bars and restaurants warn of mass redundancies
A decision on the two-metre rule will take ‘weeks’, ministers warned today – despite warnings of mass redundancies unless it is eased within days.
Business minister Paul Scully warned a shift will take time as non-essential shops get up and running for the first time since March.
Boris Johnson has urged Britons to go out and support high streets amid fears that the social distancing restrictions are inflicting catastrophic harm on the economy.
But hotels, pubs, bars, and restaurants will not return until at least next month. And the industry has delivered a desperate alert that it must have clarity on the two-metre rule by Tuesday next week, when many firms have to make rent payments for the three months from July.
There is a huge push within government to loosen the distance, with Rishi Sunak hailing the ‘positive impact’ it would have on business and jobs.
Policeman Richard Brannan had travelled to Westfield from his home in Essex with his daughter Aimee-Leigh to buy her a £500 Louis Vuitton handbag for her 16th birthday.
He said: ‘We booked an appointment with the store the minute the Government announced that non-essential shops could open. I know it’s a lot of money to spend on a handbag, but this is the only store in the country that has it and they’ve reduced the price by quite a lot.
‘My daughter has been waiting for this day for a long time and she deserves this special present because she’s a wonderful girl.’
Aimee-Leigh added: ‘We’re not just visiting the fancy shops and are going to Primark after to see what else we can pick up. I just love shopping and am happy that I can start going again.’
Eager shoppers queued outside the world’s biggest Primark in Birmingham overnight as it reopened its doors following lockdown.
The budget fashion retail giant was even forced to open early to cope with demand after massive queues of people formed outside the store from the early hours.
Some excited shoppers said they had been there since 4am this morning to be first in line to snap up a bargain following three months of coronavirus lockdown.
At least 20 people were gathered outside by 6am – with the flagship 161,000 sq ft store opening at 7.25am to accommodate the thousands expected to flock there today.
Sachin Sadh, 33, from Small Heath, Birmingham, was near the front of queue having got there at 5.30am – two-and-a-half hours before the store was due to open.
He said: ‘There were already quite a few people here, I couldn’t believe it.. I thought I’d be right at the front of the queue for sure.
‘Some had apparently been here since the break of dawn. One girl I was talking to had been here since 4am. There must have been hundreds here by the time it opened.
‘But the scenes have been pretty calm in comparison to the chaos I expected.. Everybody has been sensible so far and are maintaining their distance.
‘I’ve set myself a budget of £300. I need to buy the wife something for her birthday, so I’m going to have a look around a few places as you can’t beat Brum for shopping.
‘It’s really odd seeing lots of shoppers and staff in face masks and PPE, you can tell we’re not back to normal yet but we’re getting there.’
WINDSOR: Stores in Windsor re opening today, some offering 50 per cent in their sales. Window cleaners were out early to get the shops looking their best having being closed over the past few months
WINDSOR: Two people wait outside a TK Maxx in Windsor as non-essential shops open throughout the UK today in a welcome boost to the UK economy
LONDON: Commuters at Waterloo Station in London on the first day compulsory face coverings have to be worn on public transport
EasyJet takes to the skies for first time since March 30 as packed flight with no social-distancing leaves from Gatwick
Passengers boarding easyJet flight EZY883 before it took off from Gatwick bound for Glasgow
EasyJet took to the skies again today for the first time since its planes were grounded on March 30 – with passengers facing a raft of new coronavirus safety measures including mandatory face masks and an alcohol ban.
Pictures from the first flight this morning showed a crowded service with no room for people to observe six-feet social distancing rules, prompting some Twitter users to complain it was ‘absolute madness’.
However, the airline’s boss Johan Lundgren said he would feel ‘100% safe’ due to the steps it had taken to protect customers.
The plane, from London Gatwick to Glasgow, landed just after 8am, as easyJet resumed mainly domestic routes between British and European cities. There are two foreign routes from Belfast to Faro and Gatwick to Nice.
While borders across Europe are being opened, a hoped-for travel recovery in easyJet’s home market has been put at risk by a 14-day quarantine rule for arrivals. The airline has joined its rivals, British Airways and Ryanair, in a legal bid to have the new rules overturned.
Northern Ireland’s shops are expected to reopen on Friday while in Wales economy minister Ken Skates declared he would ‘absolutely’ like to see this happen there on June 22.
The Scottish Retail Consortium has called for the Scottish government to announce a provisional reopening date, with Nicola Sturgeon about to allow small shops and outdoor markets to start up again.
Rishi Sunak will consider relaxing Sunday trading laws and slashing tax in a bid to boost the economy, he revealed yesterday.
Admitting there would be great ‘hardship’ ahead, the Chancellor refused to rule out cutting VAT amid concerns many will lose their jobs when the furlough scheme ends.
Britain’s GDP crashed by more than 20 per cent in April according to figures released on Friday, and analysts warn that up to 4.5million could lose their jobs.
The Chancellor said the government had helped save many jobs through its furlough scheme, but said this would not be sustainable in the long run.
Footfall data from Springboard showed an 11 per cent fall in people going out to shop last week compared to the previous week, with numbers also down for every day back to and including June 3.
Stores will also feature markings outside to assist with socially-distanced queuing and encourage customers to shop alone where possible.
Quarantining books and CDs each time they are touched by a customer is impractical and impossible, the owner of HMV said, as he insisted sensible use of hand sanitiser is the best way to guarantee the ‘thrill’ of browsing remains.
Major bookstore Waterstones has pledged to isolate thumbed-through publications for 72 hours, but Doug Putman from HMV said while that is a ‘nice goal’ it is not realistic and would mean having to have a staff member per customer monitoring which products were touched and discarded
Mr Putman said: ‘You’re setting up yourself for something that is not possible to do.
‘I mean, you can’t watch every person in the store, unless you have a personal shopper with each person.
‘And, not that I’m trying to discredit what they’re (Waterstones) saying or trying to do, but we’ve gone through this in Canada and the US, and we’ve had similar retailers make similar claims.
‘And I’ve went in and shopped those stores and watched and picked up books and put them down. And that just doesn’t happen.
‘So, it’s a nice goal but I think the better, in our opinion, the better way is to really ask customers to practice super-safe hygiene, to make sure that they’re sanitising when they’re touching. To us, we think that’s the more realistic way to do it.’
The traffic congestion in London has been rising as the country eases out of coronavirus lockdown. Pictured: A weekly look at congestion in London
Meanwhile, on roads in London, congestion has risen once again today, up to 27 per cent this morning, compared to 21 per cent at the same time last week. Pictured: A TomTom graph showing traffic congestion in London
Maps data from tech giant Apple shows how the number of Britons getting out and about continues to rise towards normal levels as coronavirus lockdown laws are loosened
LONDON: Police officers have also been seen handing out masks to those entering stations without one. Pictured: A police officer hands out a face mask to a passenger in Canning Town, London
Europe’s shops have imposed a long list of health restrictions since stores began to re-open, with shoppers on the continent already used to the masks, screens and distancing measure.
Some countries such as Italy and Germany have ordered compulsory mask-wearing, while others have merely recommended them or left it up to individual shops to decide.
Prime Minister urges Brits to ‘come back to the shops’
Boris Johnson has called on Britons to get back to the shops to boost the country’s economic recovery.
The PM said people should ‘shop with confidence’ as Chancellor Rishi Sunak considers considers a VAT cut to protect jobs.
There are fears that shoppers are reticent about returning to the High Street due to concerns about the pandemic and social distancing.
Mr Sunak is considering the reduction in VAT to help retailers find a way through the malaise and safeguard jobs, as reported by The Times.
It comes as the Prime Minister is considering relaxing the two-metre social distancing rule to help the struggling hospitality industry.
He has set up a review on its effect on the economy after falling infections gave ‘more margin for manoeuvre’.
There are also limits on the number of people entering shops in Germany and Austria, along with temperature checks at a fish market in Italy – while a bride-to-be tried on a wedding dress with a matching white face mask in the Netherlands today.
Countries such as Germany and Denmark have not seen a new surge in cases since they started to lift the lockdown.
Struggling retailers hope big price cuts will be enough to tempt people to face the new style of shopping.
Next has already opened 64 outlets, which combine home and fashion departments, and another 64 will open today with more to follow this week. A video issued by the retail giant revealed all staff will be wearing head visors and in some cases face masks.
In line with Government guidelines, fitting rooms will be closed and all returned items will be quarantined for 72 hours.
This policy is also being adopted HMV and Waterstones, which is asking browsers to leave any items they handle in a trolley so they can be taken away.
Shoes retailer Kurt Geiger’s safeguards include protective gloves and face masks for staff.
Hand sanitiser will be compulsory for anyone trying on shoes and customers will be asked to wear disposable pop-socks if they do not have their own.
All shoes that have been tried on will go into quarantine for at least 24 hours afterwards.
BIRMINGHAM: Hundreds of shoppers stand in line ahead of the store opening at Primark in Birmingham as non-essential shops in England open their doors to customers for the first time since coronavirus lockdown restrictions were imposed in March
DONCASTER: Queues form at Primark in Doncaster before 7am today as all non-essential shops in England can reopen
Just some of the bargains on offer when non-essential stores reopen to eager customers today in the next stage of gradually-easing lockdown measures
LONDON: The Prime Minister visited Westfield shopping centre in East London yesterday ahead of Monday’s big retail relaunch for the British economy
Boris Johnson takes charge on the two-metre rule
Boris Johnson will today pave the way for the abolition of the two-metre separation rule by taking personal control of the decision to axe it.
His crucial intervention comes as one of the country’s leading restaurateurs warns that if it is not scrapped, the hospitality sector will be hit by millions of job losses.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the Prime Minister has commissioned a comprehensive No 10 review which will effectively wrest control of Covid-19 social distancing guidance from Government scientists – and, critically, allow the devastating economic impact of the measure to be taken into account for the first time.
One Government source said the move was recognition that ‘there is more to life than the R number’ – the term for the rate at which the infection spreads.
Last night, Tory MPs predicted that the review – to be run by Downing Street’s newly appointed Permanent Secretary, Simon Case – would provide a road map for the two-metre rule to be relaxed in time for the reopening of pubs on July 4.
Despite the Government’s desire to breathe life into our favourite shops, many will never reopen.
Retail analyst Richard Hyman said: ‘We already know the number of shoppers will be way down because of distancing and managing traffic in store at any one time. But also, a proportion of the population remain anxious and will avoid going shopping unless and until they must.
‘It’s going to be awful for quite some time. We will certainly see many more casualties and, inevitably, significant losses too.’
Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: ‘Some stores may not reopen at all.’
Consumer markets leader at PwC, Lisa Hooker, said: ‘If queues for recently reopened retailers have shown us anything, it’s possible that pent-up consumer demand may in fact lead to good news for retailers trying to preserve margins. However, if June trading does not make a big enough dent in stocks, we predict a rush of promotions and sales later in the summer.’
Shoppers may splash the cash as the shops reopen, but with fewer toilets available it may be harder to spend a penny.
A day out at the shops pre-lockdown would likely have involved lunch and the use of a restaurant’s facilities, but as eateries are still shut shoppers will be depending on public toilets.
The Government has urged councils to open public toilets ‘wherever possible’, and while many have plans in place, there are also areas where facilities will not be available.
Public toilets in Birmingham are not expected to open until next month.
A spokeswoman for Birmingham City Council said: ‘The contractors are awaiting a delivery of PPE before we are able to open the toilets, which we expect to be open in July.’
Demand for motorbikes, scooters and mopeds TRIPLES on Auto Trader as commuters switch to two-wheeled alternatives to public transport
The demand for motorbikes, scooters and mopeds has spiked as commuters look to ditch public transport and come up with a new way to get to and from work, figures have today revealed.
According to Online motor marketplace Auto Trader, the number of inquiries made to those selling mopeds on the site has tripled compared to same time last year.
The number of views for mopeds has also increased by 48 per cent year-on-year in the first week of June.
The number of views increased by a third in the last week of May, while there was a similar rise in the number of those looking at motorbikes, Auto Trader said.
It comes as the government today introduced a new law meaning passengers on Tubes, buses, trains and planes in England must wear a face covering or risk being turned away, or being slapped with a £100 fine.
Meanwhile, the government are still advising people to avoid public transport where possible and work from home if they can.
Speaking about the trend, former Top Gear presenter turned Auto Trader Youtuber Rory Reid, told The Guardian: ‘They [mopeds] are relatively cheap options for commuting, they can help you get around easily in congested urban areas, and they’re easier to park in tight spots’.
Liverpool City Council said there will be a ‘limited number’ of public toilets located at train stations and at Liverpool One’s Information Centre, adding that the number of people entering the toilets will also be limited.
The council also said the information centre toilets will be closed for short periods every hour for cleaning which will result in reduced capacity.
Westminster City Council said that with the exception of the Broadwick Street site in Soho, all public toilets are open and operating normally.
A spokesman said entrance fee charges have been temporarily suspended to ensure people can access toilets and washing facilities more easily, while additional staff have been deployed to monitor cleanliness standards and deter anti-social behaviour.
All public toilets will reopen in York with changes to the facilities including automatic flushes, automatic water and soap dispensers, replacing hand dryers with hand towels, and more regular and increased cleaning.
The council in York said clear guidance will be placed in toilets such as social distancing floor stickers, advice on how to wash hands or use hand santiser, and instructions on not touching surfaces or handles.
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokeswoman said: ‘While decisions to reopen public toilets are for councils, we strongly encourage them to open wherever possible.
‘We’ve published guidance to help them ensure facilities are safe where they are open including increasing cleaning of touch points.’
The safer public spaces guidance encourages owners and operators of public places to increase cleaning at touch points such as handrails and gates, and to ensure there are facilities available for people to maintain good hygiene.
Two-metre social distancing for school pupils is ‘an aspiration, not an absolute requirement’ says Ofsted chief
Social distancing in classrooms is an ‘aspiration’ and not an ‘absolute requirement’, the head of Ofsted said yesterday.
Amanda Spielman, the chief inspector of Ofsted, told Sky News that reducing the two-metre distancing rule would allow more pupils to return to school.
She added that schools are following a ‘hierarchy’ of infection controls, which emphasise hand washing over distancing, and many schools are being ‘creative’ to manage their class sizes.
Ms Spielman said: ‘Social distancing within the bubbles of the half-size classes is, according to the guidance, an aspiration, not an absolute requirement.
‘What’s really important is that everybody works to the guidance as it stands, plans for the relaxations that are likely to come along in future.
‘But, yes, obviously, a reduced distance expectation will flow through into greater capacity in schools but what we need to get to is that plan for how we build capacity over time’.
A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: ‘Councils have been working hard to make sure high streets and town centres are safe for businesses and shoppers and implement measures to help communities and high streets transition to our new way of life.
‘Social distancing looks set to play some part in our everyday lives for some time to come. Shop owners and businesses along with the public have a shared responsibility to follow the advice on social distancing.
‘Councils will be taking individual local decisions about public toilets based on a risk assessment and whether social distancing measures can be maintained.’
Rail workers’ leaders have warned that the compulsory use of face coverings on public transport in England from Monday must not be seen as a green light for wider use of trains and buses.
Union officials also made it clear that police, rather than frontline transport workers, must ensure the new rules are adhered to.
Coverings must now be worn by most people on buses, trams, trains, coaches, aircraft and ferries, a move welcomed by workers.
Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA), said: ‘The changes in the rules are welcome as they are likely to lower transmission of the virus on the transport network.
‘However, this must not be seen as a green light among the wider population to use public transport.
‘It must remain the case that only the key workers who are keeping us safe during the pandemic continue to use public transport.
‘It’s also important to stress that a physical distance of at least two metres between passengers and/or staff must be maintained at all times.’
Ready, steady, shop! As stores open for the first time in months, FEMAIL reveals the best deals on the high street – with prices slashed by up to 70%
Stores across the UK have opened their doors today for the first time in three months – and there are plenty of deals to be had as desperate retailers try to shift unsold stock.
Stores including Zara, John Lewis and Debenhams have slashed prices by as much as 70 per cent in a bid to lure shoppers back and FEMAIL has found the very best deals on offer.
There are amazing bargains to be had across clothing, accessories, homeware and technology – with everything from handbags to TVs now available at discount prices.
Among the highlights are a trendy green sofa by furniture giant MADE.com which now has £150 off the price and a handy ASUS ZenBook Flip 15 Convertible Laptop with £200 knocked off the price.
Now is a particularly good time to invest in your winter wardrobe, with items that usually would have been sold in early spring now available at more than 50 per cent off.
Scroll down to take a look at FEMAIL’s best buys – and get ready to shop.
In fine yet durable leather, the bag from this collection is characterised by a drawstring closure with a sleekly pared-back version of the twist ring lock to cinch the bag closed. The Hampstead gets its name from a famous swimming pool or lido in England – part of the season’s inspiration.
Featuring our graphic poppy print, this top has a classic V-neck shape with elegant wrap-over detail. Details include a subtle button fastening at the bust, elastic gathering at the cuffs and self-covered buttons. Pair with wide leg jeans for work or play.
Small but perfectly formed, our Lucia clutch is crafted in Spain from sunflower yellow satin and is an update on our bestselling Sissi clutch. Designed to a small, rounded envelope shape, it has a detachable chain shoulder strap, an inside pocket and closes to the front with a press stud fastening.
Expertly fusing minimal design with functional excellence, the Brackley trainers are crafted from leather and a textured-knit – offering a refined way to wear an off-duty essential. This tennis-inspired pair is best worn with simple denim and T-shirt combo effortless summer style.
Tailored with back darts, it creates the illusion of a slim fit; without losing the ease and comfort of your favourite shirt. A versatile design, the regular collar features collar stay tabs that can be removed and stored in a stitched-in pocket inside.
Hailing from London’s East End, where the growing presence of local artists, musicians and designers continue to inspire them every day, AllSaints have developed a reputation for its cool, laidback aesthetic. Muse, their latest in a long line of minimal pieces, of course, continues that tradition.
Made from smooth leather in a slimline design, this Farthin wallet from Ted Baker is a sleek option for transporting cards and cash. Embossed with subtle branding to the front, it opens up to reveal a contrast interior that houses eight card slots, two additional slots, and a separate note compartment.
Vintage-inspired floral prints are given a fresh, modern finish with gleaming glints of gold on this delightful mini cake stand.The Blushing Birds collection of tableware is inspired by the landscape and craftsmanship of both the East and the West. The cultural fusion creates exciting contrasts and design blends with tropical birds and other exotic species combining with PiP Studio’s Classic and Fantasy floral motifs.
The AeroBed Ultra divan is a comfy and supportive all-in-one inflatable mattress and divan that’s just like a real bed. It inflates and deflates in under 3 minutes using a remote control device or, for ultra-fast deflation that takes just 60 seconds, use the patented “whoosh” valve.