Christmas shopping was on the essential to do list today as shoppers bought festive decorations on the first day of lockdown.
As England plunged into a four-week lockdown with pubs, restaurants and retail stores forced to pull the shutters down, some businesses escaped the swingeing restrictions in force today.
Ryman’s stationers, Wilko, discount trader OneBelow and Poundland are among the High Street names still open.
Some family-run shops like Plastic Free Weigh/Refill 2 You in Knutsford have also dodged the clampdown.
Some shops are also open for click and collect customers, such as Pandora, Next, the Non Stop Party store in Kensington, west London and GAME – which will offer a collection service on November 10 and 19 to coincide with new console launches.
Shoppers were also able to get their hands on festive items today with stores including The Range staying open for business.
Customers at The Range in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, were seen leaving with a variety of purchases like Christmas trees
One shooper at the The Range in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, was seen carrying a festive reindeer decoration with a quirky red bowtie
One shopper was seen with balloons on London’s High Street Kensington, where shops are also open for click and collect customers, such as the Non Stop Party store in Kensington
The run up to Christmas is often one of the busiest times of the year for high street stores – but many have been forced to close under lockdown restrictions introduced to stop the spread of coronavirus as a second wave sweeps through the UK.
Despite this, one shopper was spotted clutching a fistful of balloons as she hit the stores on London’s High Street Kensington.
Others were seen leaving shops in The Range in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, with artificial Christmas trees and carrying a festive reindeer decoration with a quirky red bowtie.
Non-essential retailers had to shut their doors from Thursday onwards, including betting shops, vape stores and clothing retailers.
But many chains have been allowed to remain open, including craft and bargain stores.
Stationery store Rymans has remained open, and Timpson stores are also welcoming customers.
Robert Dyas and Wilko stores have also not been forced to shut under the current lockdown restrictions.
Alternative health chain Holland and Barrett has 765 UK stores and counts as an essential retailer because its products cater for people with special dietary needs
Ryman’s stationery stores are also open during the second lockdown across the UK
The Almond and Raisins Health Food store in Newcastle’s historic Grainger Market has its doors open after remaining closed during the first lockdown
Laundrettes and dry cleaners are also classed as an essential service and allowed to continue serving customers – as they were during the first lockdown.
Alternative health shops are also classed as essential under lockdown guidelines.
Holland and Barrett stores have stayed open and customers are welcome to come in and browse the shelves for healthy food, vitamins and supplements.
The alternative health chain has over 750 UK stores and counts as an essential retailer because its products cater for people with special dietary needs.
The chain also remained open during the first lockdown as they are classed as a food retailer.
Holland and Barrett shoppers in Eastbourne said they were pleased the health food and supplement store was open.
Kayleigh James, 19, said: ‘It might not be absolutely essential to buy health food products but I think shoppers are taking a sensible approach, wearing masks, sanitising and stuff so I think it is reasonable for them to be open.’
Safety measures in store include customer limits, sanitising stations, protective screens and protective wear for colleagues.
Anthony Houghton, Group Retail and Property Director,said: ‘The health of our colleagues and customers is our biggest priority, and our stores have social distancing measures in place to help everyone in our stores feel as safe as possible.’
Other independent health food chains are also open to the public.
The Almond and Raisins Health Food store in Newcastle’s historic Grainger Market has its doors open after remaining closed during the first lockdown.
The shop sells a range of products including minerals and supplements, and aromatherapy and eco-household products.
Store manager Elizabeth Kemp said they had seen a few customers come in on the first day of the second national lockdown.
Robert Dyas stores are also welcoming customers in their high street stores around the UK
The Wilko shop on London’s Kensington High Street was also open this morning as the second lockdown began in the UK
She said: ‘We’ve had a few people in, even though the Grainger Market is quite quiet.
‘We are a health food store – a bit like Holland and Barrett but we’re independent.
‘We were pleased to be included in the list of essential stores that could remain open because so many people rely on us.
‘They prefer to come to us than go to the main chain stores in the Eldon Square shopping centre.
James Timpson, the Chief Exececutive of the Timpson Group, confirmed on social media that his stores would remain open
Timpson cobblers are open, although the chain’s chief executive says he expects sales will be lower
‘One elderly lady has been coming to our shop since it opened 40 years ago, and she buys senna pods which she has always taken since she was a little girl.’
James Timpson, the Chief Executive of the Timpson Group, confirmed on social media that his stores would remain open during the second lockdown.
The Timpson chain are cobblers that also provide dry cleaning, phone repairs, key cutting and locksmith services in some of their stores.
Mr Timpson said that although their stores will remain open he expects lower sales than normal.
He said: ‘In England virtually all our shops will be stay open in this lockdown as we offer essential services, but sales will be lower I suspect by some margin.’
Rymans stationery stores have also remained open.
Their website reads: ‘We provide essential services and we’re open for business as usual.’
It adds: ‘Ryman provides essential services such as DHL, Post Offices and Western Union money transfers and our stores will remain open for business as usual during November.’
The chain’s website lists a number of covid safety requirements such as asking customers to maintain social distancing and pay with card where possible.
Shops are allowed to open under current restrictions as long as they can operate in a Covid-secure way and follow Covid-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.
The Health Food co in Leeds is open during the second lockdown. It was open during the shutdown earlier this year but owner Geoff Millington, 67, says this lockdown feels different
Mr Millington also owns a separate health food store in York which remains open to the public
Geoff Millington, 67, who owns two health food shops in Leeds and one in York, said he feels like this lockdown is different for customers.
His stores remained open during the first lockdown as they sell food, like nuts and oats.
Mr Millington, who owns The Health Food Co and Millies in Leeds, and a separate health food store in York, said: ‘There’s certainly more people around than during the last lockdown.
‘People understand the virus this time a bit better, and they are not as scared about it.
‘I’ve just walked around Leeds to see what is open and this time round I’ve noticed places like Costa coffee is open and places are open for takeaways.
‘There’s actually a newsagent open selling tobacco and stuff – I was surprised.
‘The streets are slightly busier than last time, but its a stark contrast to this week as the last three days have felt like it’s Christmas.’