// Hordes of people could be seen filling up town centres across England in first Saturday since lockdown ended
// Town centres in places such as York, Colchester and Bournemouth were full
// London’s Oxford Street and Regent Street also had hoardes of shoppers
Thousands of people hit the high street in England on the first Saturday since the second and month-long national lockdown was lifted.
Hordes of people could be seen filling up town centres in places such as York, Colchester and Bournemouth – as families scouted for deals during their Christmas shop.
Queues formed along London’s Oxford Street as shoppers made the most of the relaxed Covid-19 restrictions under the new tiered system, which came into force on Wednesday.
- Non-essential retail to reopen today as England ends second lockdown
- Green light for Northern Ireland non-essential retailers to reopen December 11
- Non-essential retail to enter lockdown in 11 local councils across Scotland
Meanwhile, images circulated on Twitter of hundreds of youth who reportedly attempted to storm Harrods’ flagship in Knightsbridge, alongside images of Regent Street packed with shoppers.
Joining them on Regent Street was London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who took the time to take selfies with people at the popular shopping destination.
“It’s quite clear speaking to shopkeepers, businesses and those in retail, they’ve had a horrendous nine months, they’re keen to make sure this golden month and this golden quarter they can make up some of the ground lost,” he said.
“They’ve seen the collapse of international tourism, the collapse of domestic tourism, and that’s why they really need our support.
“Unless we support our shops we can’t be surprised if, due to a combination of Covid and lack of business, shops close and people lose their jobs.”
It comes after a week of high street woes as 26,500 jobs were put at risk at retailers including Debenhams, Bonmarche and Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group – which have been severely impacted by the pandemic.
Khan said it was important people continued to follow the rules, with the majority of England under Tier 2 and Tier 3 of the new restrictions, which limit social contact between households but allow non-essential stores to open.
“It’s really important that we don’t think that this virus is behind us or that we’re over the worst necessarily,” he said.
His visit to the West End coincided with Small Business Saturday, an annual event which takes place on the first Saturday of December.
Now in its eighth year in the UK, a record 17.6 million people supported small independent businesses on last year’s Small Business Saturday, spending an estimated £800 million.
“We are optimistic that this has been one of the biggest days for a long time for small businesses,” Small Business Saturday director Michelle Ovens said.
“The rising groundswell of awareness and affection we’re seeing for small firms from the public too is also a positive indicator – research we did with American Express shows that almost two thirds of people now support them more due to the pandemic.
“Shopping local is especially important as many small firms are facing a compressed Christmas trading period.
“These small firms are at the heart of communities and local economies, so all of our individual actions can add up and have a massive impact.”
With less than three weeks until Christmas, shoppers are being urged to shop locally in a push to save small businesses and independent retailers from financial ruin.
Insurance providers Simply Business estimated two out of three smaller retailers and self-employed workers have had to stop trading at some point in the past six months due to the crisis.
It found Covid-19 could cost small businesses up to £69 billion, while a separate study by American Express suggested that almost half of non-essential independent retailers believed their survival depended on sales in the run up to Christmas.
with PA Wires