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
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:
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
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