Primark shoppers queue from 5am as non-essential shops reopen

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Thousands of shoppers queued outside shops before dawn this morning as England sprung back into life following a second national lockdown.

Customers were seen lining up outside Primark from as early as 5am as non-essential stores welcomed people back inside on ‘Wild Wednesday’.

Many people were keen to get some early bargains in at shops including TK Maxx, Foot Locker and Debenhams after the four-week shutdown.

Lockdown restrictions came to an end at midnight – but millions will still have to follow strict rules after the country was plunged into Boris Johnson’s new tier system.

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Most people in England are now living under tier two Covid-19 restrictions which means they can only meet outdoors with friends or family from other households or outside their bubble.

Meanwhile, places including Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester, Leeds and Kent have been put in tier three, which means no mixing indoors and sees hospitality venues close, aside from delivery and takeaway services.

All non-essential shops can reopen from today in all three tiers. Retailers have implemented measures to limit the number of people entering shops, as well as enforcing social distancing rules, setting up hand sanitiser stations and carrying out more frequent deep cleaning.

Queues outside of Primark on Northumberland Street in Newcastle city centre at 7am this morning (Picture: North News & Pictures Ltd nort)
Non-essential shops can open in all three tiers (Picture: North News & Pictures Ltd nort)
People queueing outside T.K.Maxx in Birmingham on the first day shops re-open (Picture: PA)
A queue outside Foot Locker on Oxford Street in London (Picture: Stephen Lock / i-Images)

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said stores were hoping to draw customers back in for safe, festive shopping.

She said: ’Thousands of retailers are looking forward to welcoming back customers.

‘Safety remains the biggest priority for retailers, who have spent hundreds of millions to make stores Covid-secure.

‘With billions in sales lost during lockdown, stores are looking to offer a safe and enjoyable shopping experience to bring back customers.

‘Christmas is around the corner so everyone has a reason to be visiting their local shops.

‘Every purchase we make is a retailer helped, a job protected and a local community supported.’

Hundreds of shoppers woke up early to get in some bargain hunting (Picture: PA)
Shoppers line up outside a branch of JD sports on Oxford Street (Picture: Martyn Wheatley / i-Images)
People wait outside Debenhams in London before it reopens on the first day following the second lockdown (Picture: w8media)

It comes amid a high street bloodbath, with the jobs of around 25,000 staff at Arcadia and Debenhams currently hanging in the balance.

Some 13,000 staff at Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group face an anxious wait following the business collapsing into administration.

Debenhams, which is already in administration, has confirmed bosses will start a liquidation process after JD Sports confirmed it had pulled out of a possible rescue deal. The department store has around 12,000 staff.

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