Shops are preparing for a ‘Wild Wednesday’ spending spree when the national lockdown ends tomorrow.
Customers can expect sales and longer opening hours over the festive period as retailers desperately try to plug the financial black hole left by restrictions.
Some stores have even hired extra security to deal with an influx of shoppers, with Primark and Ikea expecting crowds.
It comes as shopping centres – including Westfield in London – have drafted in celebrities to lure people back to the beleaguered high street to ‘shop physical’.
Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers are also set to reopen in areas under Tier 1 and Tier 2.
Debenhams will launch a pre-Christmas fire sale of all its stock as it heads for oblivion today after 242 years of trading with 12,000 jobs set to go.
Some stores have drafted in celebrities to lure people back to the beleaguered high street to ‘shop physical’ (pictured, Clara Amfo in London’s King’s Cross)
TV presenter Laura Whitmore teamed up with Westfield London to launch A Very Rental Christmas pop-up store
Janet Edwards hangs a festive We’re Open sign designed by artist Timothy Hunt in the window of her flower shop in south London
Dawne Tattersall updates the window display of ‘Just Books’, an independent book shop, ahead of reopening in Hebden Bridge, northern England, today
Stores can open 24 hours a day in December in a desperate bid to offset the £900million a day economic hit of the tier system.
They will be fighting over a £1billion festive spending bounty when they re-open – promising huge price cuts.
But despite predictions of bumper crowds tomorrow, there are fears customers will stay away from stores due to the coronavirus rules, the Centre for Retail Research suggests.
SAGE scientist says Christmas shoppers can only spend 15 MINUTES in a store
Professor Lucy Yardley, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), said ‘Covid-secure’ sites are ‘not 100 per cent risk free’ and people should keep their time indoors to a minimum.
Professor Lucy Yardley, a member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies
She argued that if people wear masks and socially distance then ‘nipping out for a bit of Christmas shopping is not one of the most dangerous things that you can do’.
But she pointed to the 15-minute threshold used in the contact tracing process and said ‘most of us’ would not need longer than that in a shop and ‘the less time that you spend in there the safer you are’.
The suggestion from Prof Yardley that people should spend as little time as possible in shops is likely to be badly received by the industry.
Prof Yardley told Times Radio: ‘One thing that we have learned from analysis is that environments that are called Covid-secure are not 100 per cent risk free; of course, they can’t be, but they are safer than they would be otherwise.
‘If everybody does actually wear masks, have plenty of ventilation, keep two metres apart, not spend too long in a shop because the longer you are in there the higher the risks, then actually sort of nipping out for a bit of Christmas shopping is not one of the most dangerous things that you can do.’
London’s West End is expected to see a drop of 170,000 customers a day by the weekend.
Birmingham’s Bullring is forecast to see 40,000 fewer people in its stores as well as a 30,000-strong reduction at the Trafford centre in Manchester and Gateshead’s Metrocentre.
Despite a massive online spending splurge from Black Friday through to Cyber Monday, millions of Britons are yet to buy their Christmas gifts.
Industry analysts were expecting around £2billion to be spent online yesterday, bringing the total for web shopping over the weekend to £5.7billion.
That would be up by some 52.9 per cent on the same weekend last year, according to estimates from the Centre for Retail Research.
But the lockdown of non-essential stores meant spending through stores in the UK’s ghost towns slumped by 63.7 per cent – dropping from £4.8billion to £1.74billion.
The net effect is that total spending over the four days of the Black Friday weekend was down by around £1billion on last year at a total of some £7.5billion, according to CRR estimates.
Assuming Britons go on to spend as much to celebrate Christmas in 2020 as they did last year, it would appear there is £1 billion that would normally have been spent over the weekend, which retailers will be fighting to grab a share of.
This £1billion is on top of the spending that can normally be expected in the crucial weeks before Christmas.
Massive sales are in the pipeline through into January, coupled with an unprecedented increase in trading hours.
Hundreds of stores will open until midnight and, including 11 Primark outlets, will be open 24 hours a day.
The CRR’s Shopping for Christmas 2020 report, which was commissioned by VoucherCodes.co.uk, said: ‘Total sales for Black Friday weekend in the UK are expected to total £7.504billion – 12.4 per cent less than 2019.
‘This is the first time we have ever reported a drop in total sales for the Black Friday weekend. It is driven entirely by a reduction in in-store sales.’
Some High Street shops will open 24 hours a day in December in a desperate bid to offset the £900million a day economic hit of the new tier restrictions.
Primark has decided to open 11 shops around the clock, with other chains extending hours until late into the night.
M&S will open hundreds of stores until midnight. John Lewis, Currys PC World, Next and other big High Street names will also extend trading hours.
CEBR research estimates that the new tiers will result in England’s gross domestic product being 13 per cent smaller compared with December last year.
Overall in December, which is a short working month, the economic hit is expected to be £20billion compared with the same period in 2019.
Meanwhile ministers are said to be considering more cash support for restaurants, pubs and other businesses hit by the restrictions, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The economic case for the new tier system will be set out by ministers.
Amid threats of rebellion from Tory MPs, Downing Street will publish impact assessments to reveal how it decided what restrictions each area of the country will face when the tier system comes into force on Wednesday.
Non-essential stores and services will be able to reopen, but more than 34million people are facing tougher restrictions than before the national lockdown.
In a bid to lure customers back to the beleaguered high street, some stores have rolled out celebrities.
Thirty retailers across King’s Cross in central London joined together to launch United We Shop, which is trying to get Britons to ‘shop physical’ this Christmas, fronted by BBC Radio 1 presenter and Strictly contestant Clara Amfo.
Meanwhile Westfield London enlisted TV presenter Laura Whitmore to help promote a Christmas rental store.
The onerous tiered system will be in place across England from December 3 until the end of March, the Prime Minister said
Whitmore is pictured launching ‘A very Rental Christmas’ pop-up shop at Westfield London yesterday
Bill Deakin, owner of Silly Billy’s independent toy shop, prepares their stock ahead of reopening in Hebden Bridge, northern England
Galina Sherri of Gigi’s Dressing Room hangs a festive We’re Open sign designed by artist Timothy Hunt in her shop window in east London
Remzi Sasma, owner of an independent emporium shop, prepares their stock ahead of reopening in Hebden Bridge, northern England
Britons could be offered shopping vouchers and lottery tickets in return for getting tested for Covid-19 under mass schemes in the most infected areas (stock)
Many pubs and restaurants are preparing their stores ready for a relaxation of restrictions tomorrow.
Shutters were being taken off watering holes in Leicester Square in the central London this morning, as well as other businesses across the country.
Sharika Thomas, 36, is the owner of the Amethyst Beauty Lounge in North Shields, North Tyneside, which she started in July last year.
Sharika Thomas, 36, is the owner of the Amethyst Beauty Lounge in North Shields, North Tyneside, which she started in July last year. The mother-of-one, who does nails, eyelashes and massage, said: ‘I am really excited to be opening tomorrow’
‘I am spending today cleaning and disinfecting everything,’ she said. ‘When I open, I will be wearing a mask, and visor, and gloves.’
‘It’s difficult to predict what business will be like in December. It’s usually a very busy time, but will people be scared? Also, as the North East is in Tier Three, bars and restaurants will be shut. Will people want beauty treatments if there is nowhere to go?’
Jill Snailham, 55, has owned the Frank and Ruby Boutique, in Tynemouth, North Tyneside, which sells a selection of independent clothes labels from across Europe, for 11 years.
Jill Snailham, 55, has owned the Frank and Ruby Boutique, in Tynemouth, North Tyneside, which sells a selection of independent clothes labels from across Europe, for 11 years. She said: ‘I am really looking forward to welcoming people back to the shop but I don’t know if we are going to be busy or not’
She said: ‘I am really looking forward to welcoming people back to the shop but I don’t know if we are going to be busy or not. Tynemouth is a pretty seaside town and lately it has been really busy with people getting take away fish and chips and coffees, and walking along coast.
‘If that continues then we will do great. We have been very busy online, but we need to be able to open our shop to survive.’ The worry is we will have to close down again in January, February and March. We are just hoping for the best.’
Elife Rana Hopper, 43, is the owner of Razzberry Bazaar gift shop in Tynemouth.
Elife Rana Hopper, 43, is the owner of Razzberry Bazaar gift shop in Tynemouth (pictured)
She said: ‘Our business was set up 30 years ago by my mum and she passed away in November so it’s been doubly traumatic for us’
She said: ‘Our business was set up 30 years ago by my mum and she passed away in November so it’s been doubly traumatic for us. I don’t know what she’d have made of all this but I know she’d want to keep the business alive.
‘When I see news about the likes of Arcadia next to a picture of Phillip Green on his £1 million yacht I just think that’s a world away from the experience of being a small business owner and that’s what this country is built on.
‘The only power people have is where they spend their money and who they spend it with and we hope that people think about that.’
Vicki Turner, 46, is the owner of organic children’s clothes and toy shop Tribe, in Tynemouth, North Tyneside
She added: ‘We’ve spent the last four weeks waiting and trying to get the shop looking as good as it possibly can and we’re just crossing our fingers now.’
Vicki Turner, 46, is the owner of organic children’s clothes and toy shop Tribe, in Tynemouth.
She said: ‘I can’t wait to open tomorrow. There is the online side of the business, but the shop is the loveliest part.
I love the families and kids coming in and picking out clothes and toys.
‘I think we will be impacted by the fact we are in tier three in two ways. There are lots of great places to eat in Tynemouth.
Usually in December people will go out for a bite to eat or a drink and go shopping afterwards. That’s obviously not going to happen this year.’
In Kent businesses are facing the prospect of continuing restrictions tomorrow as they go into Tier 3.
Canterbury workers were fuming with the move today and remain downbeat about Christmas trade.
Nimmy Sandhu, 69, is owner of The Moat Tearooms. He runs the cafe and bakery, which he has owned for 22 years, with his nephew, Matthew Sandhu, 25.
‘I think we should have gone for a Tier two. It should have been done on a district basis more than a county basis. I find it annoying that we’re in a tier with places with a higher rate.
‘November is the busiest time of the year for us, even busier than Christmas. I can’t see anything improving soon. All the shops are open and I think restaurants and pubs social distance more than in shops. I think it will be a free for all.
‘We’ve been trading for 22 years. We’re confident we’re going to be here in 2021 but it’s hard.’
Meanwhile drinkers plotting to visit Cornwall to take advantage of the less strict tier one pub restrictions this weekend will have to dodge ‘anti-pint’ police patrols.
Landlady Amy Newland at the White Hart in Chilsworthy, Cornwall, which is right on the Devon border, is scared of drinkers flocking to her pub
From Wednesday, Cornwall will become the only place on mainland Britain where punters can go drinking in a pub without ordering a ‘substantial meal’.
But pubs in the county say they have already been fielding calls from punters in neighbouring Devon asking when they will be open and are fearful they could be overwhelmed over the weekend.
The government confirmed it is against the rules for anyone not living in Cornwall to travel into it, either by road or sea, to go to the pub.
Devon and Cornwall police will use 10 patrol cars to target people flouting coronavirus rules – including those who visit Cornwall from higher tier regions to visit pubs (file photo)
People in Cornwall, along with those in the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight, will be living under Tier 1 measures – which allow socialising inside homes and pubs subject to the Rule of Six – after the blanket national lockdown ends on December 2.
But nearly 99 per cent of England will be in the toughest two levels, including neighbouring Devon.
Under tier two rules, pubs will only be able to serve alcohol with ‘substantial’ meals.
Tier three will be brought in for huge swathes of the country including the bulk of the North, much of the Midlands, all of Kent, and Bristol.
Under the rules, if you are caught meeting up with people from outside your household or support bubble, you could be handed a £100 fine.
The fine for each subsequent offence would double up to a maximum of £6,400.
If a business fails to comply with the rules, they could be hit with a £10,000 fine.
New coronavirus tiers: which one is your home in?
TIER THREE: VERY HIGH
Tees Valley Combined Authority:
- Redcar and Cleveland
North East Combined Authority:
- South Tyneside
- Newcastle upon Tyne
- North Tyneside
- County Durham
- Greater Manchester
- Blackburn with Darwen
- Yorkshire and The Humber
- The Humber
- West Yorkshire
- South Yorkshire
- Birmingham and Black Country
- Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
- Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull
- Derby and Derbyshire
- Nottingham and Nottinghamshire
- Leicester and Leicestershire
- Slough (remainder of Berkshire is tier 2: High alert)
- Kent and Medway
- South Gloucestershire
- North Somerset
TIER 2: HIGH
- Liverpool City Region
- Warrington and Cheshire
- North Yorkshire
- Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
East of England
- Cambridgeshire, including Peterborough
- Essex, Thurrock and Southend on Sea
- Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes
- All 32 boroughs plus the City of London
- East Sussex
- West Sussex
- Brighton and Hove
- Bracknell Forest
- Windsor and Maidenhead
- West Berkshire
- Hampshire (except the Isle of Wight), Portsmouth and Southampton
- South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip and Sedgemoor
- Bath and North East Somerset
- Wiltshire and Swindon
TIER 1: MEDIUM