Primark fans queue overnight as Christmas shoppers prepare to blow £1.7billion today

Primark fans have queued overnight to make the most of 36-hour openings this weekend as Christmas shoppers prepare to spend £1.7billion today on high streets.

Many Brits are hoping to finish their festive shopping before London plunges into coronavirus tier 3 and shoppers at a Primark in Braehead Shopping Centre, Glasgow, and Abbey Wood in Belfast were pictured joining lengthy queues last night.

Yesterday, Braehead and Abbey Centres’ Primarks opened at 9am and stayed open to customers overnight. Braehead won’t close until 9pm tonight while Abbey Centre will stay open until 6pm tomorrow. 

More than £3million is expected to be spent every minute over the nine hours of trading across Britain. Some 60,000 shoppers are expected at London’s Brent Cross, 80,000 at Lakeside and 130,000 at Manchester’s Trafford Centre, according to The Sun.   

Shoppers at a Primark in Braehead Shopping Centre, Glasgow, were pictured joining a long queue as it trailed around the car park last night

Shoppers at a Primark in Braehead Shopping Centre, Glasgow, were pictured joining a long queue as it trailed around the car park last night

Shoppers at a Primark in Braehead Shopping Centre, Glasgow, were pictured joining a long queue as it trailed around the car park last night

Shoppers queued overnight to get into Primark at the Abbey Centre in Belfast. The store stayed open overnight and will close at 9pm tomorrow

Shoppers queued overnight to get into Primark at the Abbey Centre in Belfast. The store stayed open overnight and will close at 9pm tomorrow

Shoppers queued overnight to get into Primark at the Abbey Centre in Belfast. The store stayed open overnight and will close at 9pm tomorrow

Some 60,000 shoppers are expected at London's Brent Cross, 80,000 at Lakeside and 130,000 at Manchester's Trafford Centre, according to The Sun. Pictured, shoppers queue for Primark in Glasgow yesterday

Some 60,000 shoppers are expected at London's Brent Cross, 80,000 at Lakeside and 130,000 at Manchester's Trafford Centre, according to The Sun. Pictured, shoppers queue for Primark in Glasgow yesterday

Some 60,000 shoppers are expected at London’s Brent Cross, 80,000 at Lakeside and 130,000 at Manchester’s Trafford Centre, according to The Sun. Pictured, shoppers queue for Primark in Glasgow yesterday

Professor Joshua Bamfield, director of the Centre for Retail Research, told the newspaper: ‘Saturday will be a big day. Spending is happening earlier this year. More customers will be in shops as most purchases will now be through stores, as shoppers are aware of delivery issues online.’ 

Second class post sent through Royal Mail has been taking up to two weeks to arrive and the service has acknowledged delays due to ‘exceptionally high volumes’. It also blamed the longer delivery times on social distancing rules in place in local mail centres and delivery offices.

A shift to online shopping means there are 200million more parcels in the postal and courier system this year. But as customers start to worry their parcels won’t arrive in time for Christmas, they’re taking to the high street. 

With a day of festive shopping usually ending with a meal and a drink, others are pulling their shopping trips forward by a week to try to fit it in before their areas are brought into tier 3 restrictions.    

More than £3million will be spent every minute over the nine hours of trading across Britain. Pictured, shoppers on Oxford Street, London, last Sunday

More than £3million will be spent every minute over the nine hours of trading across Britain. Pictured, shoppers on Oxford Street, London, last Sunday

More than £3million will be spent every minute over the nine hours of trading across Britain. Pictured, shoppers on Oxford Street, London, last Sunday

A shift to online shopping means there are 200million more parcels in the postal and courier system this year. Shoppers are heading to the high street in case parcels don't arrive in time. Pictured, shoppers on Oxford Street, London, last Sunday

A shift to online shopping means there are 200million more parcels in the postal and courier system this year. Shoppers are heading to the high street in case parcels don't arrive in time. Pictured, shoppers on Oxford Street, London, last Sunday

A shift to online shopping means there are 200million more parcels in the postal and courier system this year. Shoppers are heading to the high street in case parcels don’t arrive in time. Pictured, shoppers on Oxford Street, London, last Sunday

Tier 3 means all food and drink establishments are closed for eat-in service – although they can still offer takeaway.

It comes as supermarkets turn to traffic light systems, digital queueing apps and 24-hour trading to get their customers through the Christmas rush without defying social distancing rules.

Britons are expected to spend £12billion in supermarkets and convenience stores this morning – some £1.5billion more than last year, according to markets analyst Kantar.

More than 300 Tesco stores will open 24 hours from December 14 until Christmas Eve, while others are set to open from 5am. And Waitrose is launching an online queuing system with Qudini next week – allowing customers to book time slots to visit more than 100 stores, reported The Guardian.  

Steven Hand, head of customer experience at Waitrose, told the newspaper: ‘We’re doing all we can to make our customers’ grocery shop as safe, easy and convenient as possible. Our pre-bookable slots are just another way we’re doing this and will give peace of mind to those who like to plan ahead and avoid queues.’ 

Weekly Public Health England data show that many areas in London, East and South East have seen infection rates rise since the lockdown ended and could face Tier Three rules from next week

Weekly Public Health England data show that many areas in London, East and South East have seen infection rates rise since the lockdown ended and could face Tier Three rules from next week

Weekly Public Health England data show that many areas in London, East and South East have seen infection rates rise since the lockdown ended and could face Tier Three rules from next week

Coronavirus cases are rising sharply in the capital, sparking fears that it could be placed under the most severe restrictions in days

Coronavirus cases are rising sharply in the capital, sparking fears that it could be placed under the most severe restrictions in days

Coronavirus cases are rising sharply in the capital, sparking fears that it could be placed under the most severe restrictions in days 

And data from the Covid Symptom Study app, which collects unofficial reports of test results and symptoms, estimates that other Tier Two areas including Berkshire, Wiltshire and Suffolk are also seeing cases on the up ahead of crunch decisions next week

And data from the Covid Symptom Study app, which collects unofficial reports of test results and symptoms, estimates that other Tier Two areas including Berkshire, Wiltshire and Suffolk are also seeing cases on the up ahead of crunch decisions next week

And data from the Covid Symptom Study app, which collects unofficial reports of test results and symptoms, estimates that other Tier Two areas including Berkshire, Wiltshire and Suffolk are also seeing cases on the up ahead of crunch decisions next week

A total of 481,500 patients had coronavirus in the seven days up to December 5, down from 521,300 the week prior (8 per cent), according to estimates by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

A total of 481,500 patients had coronavirus in the seven days up to December 5, down from 521,300 the week prior (8 per cent), according to estimates by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

A total of 481,500 patients had coronavirus in the seven days up to December 5, down from 521,300 the week prior (8 per cent), according to estimates by the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Waitrose will be opening until 11pm up to December 23, closing at 6pm on Christmas Eve, while the ‘vast majority’ of Sainsburys will open from 6am until midnight from December 21 to try to give customers time to get their shopping done.

Pre-ordered turkey sales are up 138 per cent in Waitrose, according to Kanter, with sales of turkeys overall in the grocery sector up 36 per cent in November. 

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases are rising sharply in the capital, sparking fears that it could be placed under the most severe restrictions in days. Sadiq Khan, the city’s mayor, yesterday pleaded with Londoners to stick to social distancing rules and the wearing of masks. 

A decision on whether to move the capital into the top tier – which would see pubs and restaurants closed – will be made in the next few days and will come into force on December 16.

Amid the Government's warning for Christmas shoppers to be careful, revellers were drinking and eating at outside tables in Soho, in London's West End, on Friday

Amid the Government's warning for Christmas shoppers to be careful, revellers were drinking and eating at outside tables in Soho, in London's West End, on Friday

Amid the Government’s warning for Christmas shoppers to be careful, revellers were drinking and eating at outside tables in Soho, in London’s West End, on Friday

MailOnline's analysis of Government figures show London is now recording more cases per day, for its size, than 27 of 61 authorities currently living under Tier Three curbs, including Nottingham, Leeds, Leicestershire, Bristol, Newcastle and Derby

MailOnline's analysis of Government figures show London is now recording more cases per day, for its size, than 27 of 61 authorities currently living under Tier Three curbs, including Nottingham, Leeds, Leicestershire, Bristol, Newcastle and Derby

MailOnline’s analysis of Government figures show London is now recording more cases per day, for its size, than 27 of 61 authorities currently living under Tier Three curbs, including Nottingham, Leeds, Leicestershire, Bristol, Newcastle and Derby

But last night the British Beer and Pub Association said Tier Three would be the ‘writing on the wall’ for many more of the capital’s locals. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock yesterday hinted that Tier 3 measures were coming for London when he pointed to the capital’s rising cases and urged people to continue obeying the rules and not ‘push the boundaries’.

According to The Telegraph, experts and jail insiders believe London’s coronavirus outbreak could have been partly fuelled by prisons in Kent.

The newspaper pointed to how four of the top five areas with the highest infection rates in England – which sits on a commuting corridor to south-east London – are centred around the Kent borough of Swale and the Isle of Sheppey, where there are three prisons. One of those jails had one of the largest prison outbreaks of Covid-19 this autumn.

It came as Britain’s daily coronavirus cases increased by 33 per cent on Friday compared to seven days ago. A total of 21,672 new cases were announced, up slightly from 20,964 on Thursday.

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