Shoppers form huge queues outside Costco and head to high streets in search of gifts

Countless Britons flocked to the country’s high streets and supermarkets today as they stocked up on Christmas essentials ahead of the big day.

Experts predict the UK’s tills will ring with a staggering £2.5million-a-minute spent before December 22 as shoppers stack up on last-minute gifts.   

And today saw mask-wearing shoppers rush to get their Christmas dinner essentials with winding queues forming outside Costco in Manchester.

Meanwhile in Newcastle, the highstreet was jam-packed with locals eager to get their last-minute presents bought as online shoppers keen to avoid crowded stores put an enormous strain on postal deliveries.

In Southampton, tech-savvy buyers queued outside Currys PC World while a Kent marketplace put up signs warning pedestrians of the Covid risk in the region.

The big rush to the highstreet on the last Saturday before Christmas was a stark contrast to scenes yesterday which saw highstreets nearly deserted on what many hoped would be a Frenzied Friday shopping spree.

Countless Britons flocked to the country’s high streets and supermarkets (queues outside Costco in Manchester, pictured) today as they stocked up on Christmas essentials ahead of the big day

In Newcastle (pictured), the highstreet was jam-packed with locals eager to get their last-minute presents bought as online shoppers keen to avoid crowded stores put an enormous strain on postal deliveries

In Newcastle (pictured), the highstreet was jam-packed with locals eager to get their last-minute presents bought as online shoppers keen to avoid crowded stores put an enormous strain on postal deliveries

In Newcastle (pictured), the highstreet was jam-packed with locals eager to get their last-minute presents bought as online shoppers keen to avoid crowded stores put an enormous strain on postal deliveries

In Southampton, tech-savvy buyers queued outside Currys PC World. Mask-wearing shoppers were seen in a queue which snaked outside the store

In Southampton, tech-savvy buyers queued outside Currys PC World. Mask-wearing shoppers were seen in a queue which snaked outside the store

In Southampton, tech-savvy buyers queued outside Currys PC World. Mask-wearing shoppers were seen in a queue which snaked outside the store

Meanwhile a Kent marketplace put up signs warning pedestrians of the Covid risk in the region. Shoppers were seen walking around

Meanwhile a Kent marketplace put up signs warning pedestrians of the Covid risk in the region. Shoppers were seen walking around

Meanwhile a Kent marketplace put up signs warning pedestrians of the Covid risk in the region. Shoppers were seen walking around

Boris Johnson’s decision to place London in Tier 3 has decimated trade in the West End with footfall down 25 per cent in a week and 68.5 per cent in a year on one of the busiest shopping days of 2020. 

Friday’s total spending was expected to be around £1.55billion – up by 19 per cent on the equivalent day last year – despite the dreaded coronavirus crisis trashing the festive season for millions. 

But while many still braved pouring rain to hit the shops in London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Portsmouth, Reading, Windsor and Swansea, the number of people shopping compared to a week ago – and the same day in 2019 – is down massively as a total of 38 million people begin life in Tier Three from Saturday. 

Coronavirus lockdown rules hammered the UK High Street in November as retail sales dropped by 3.8 per cent when compared to October. 

Clothing stores were the hardest hit as sales plummeted by 19 per cent while the sale of fuel also tumbled by 16.6 per cent as families stayed at home.

However, online shopping surged by 74.7 per cent year-on-year as businesses said people had brought forward their Christmas shopping. 

In central London, put into Tier 3 early this week, the number of people on Oxford Street, Bond Street and other shopping streets has plummeted, exclusive figures show. 

The big rush to the highstreet on the last Saturday before Christmas (queues outside Currys PC World, pictured) was a stark contrast to scenes yesterday which saw highstreets nearly deserted on what many hoped would be a Frenzied Friday shopping spree

The big rush to the highstreet on the last Saturday before Christmas (queues outside Currys PC World, pictured) was a stark contrast to scenes yesterday which saw highstreets nearly deserted on what many hoped would be a Frenzied Friday shopping spree

The big rush to the highstreet on the last Saturday before Christmas (queues outside Currys PC World, pictured) was a stark contrast to scenes yesterday which saw highstreets nearly deserted on what many hoped would be a Frenzied Friday shopping spree

Newcastle's Northumberland Street was packed with shoppers eager to get a Christmas bargain as the big day draws near

Newcastle's Northumberland Street was packed with shoppers eager to get a Christmas bargain as the big day draws near

Newcastle’s Northumberland Street was packed with shoppers eager to get a Christmas bargain as the big day draws near

Shoppers in Newcastle were today eager to get their hands on some last-minute gifts on the last Saturday before Christmas

Shoppers in Newcastle were today eager to get their hands on some last-minute gifts on the last Saturday before Christmas

Shoppers in Newcastle were today eager to get their hands on some last-minute gifts on the last Saturday before Christmas

Huge queues were seen outside Costco in Manchester as shoppers rushed to stock up on their Christmas dinner essentials

Huge queues were seen outside Costco in Manchester as shoppers rushed to stock up on their Christmas dinner essentials

Huge queues were seen outside Costco in Manchester as shoppers rushed to stock up on their Christmas dinner essentials

Lines of trolleys were seen outside Costco in Manchester on Saturday as Christmas day draws nearer and home delivery slots book up

Lines of trolleys were seen outside Costco in Manchester on Saturday as Christmas day draws nearer and home delivery slots book up

Lines of trolleys were seen outside Costco in Manchester on Saturday as Christmas day draws nearer and home delivery slots book up 

Shoppers were seen with trolleys piled high with essentials as winding queues formed outside Costco in Birmingham

Shoppers were seen with trolleys piled high with essentials as winding queues formed outside Costco in Birmingham

One man was seen stocking up on essentials in Birmingham

One man was seen stocking up on essentials in Birmingham

Shoppers were seen with trolleys piled high with essentials as winding queues formed outside Costco in Birmingham

Shoppers with their trolleys filled to the brim with Christmas day essentials were seen outside Costco in Birmingham

Shoppers with their trolleys filled to the brim with Christmas day essentials were seen outside Costco in Birmingham

Shoppers with their trolleys filled to the brim with Christmas day essentials were seen outside Costco in Birmingham

Shoppers hit a market in Dartford, Kent, as they sought to stock up on last-minute Christmas presents before the big day

Shoppers hit a market in Dartford, Kent, as they sought to stock up on last-minute Christmas presents before the big day

Shoppers hit a market in Dartford, Kent, as they sought to stock up on last-minute Christmas presents before the big day

Diane Wehrle, Insights Director at Springboard said: ‘In Central London footfall declined sharply from the week before by 24.3% following the imposition of Tier 3 regulations. In regional cities outside London footfall declined by 2.3% due to this reason’. 

Only visits to shopping centres were up today, when compared to a week ago, but still down compared to December 18 2019. 

Ms Wehrle said: ‘In shopping centres footfall rose from the previous Friday by 2.5%, which is a trend we expect with shoppers gravitating to shopping centres in the run up to Christmas as there is the widest choice of products for gifting’.

She added: ‘The peak Christmas shopping day in each year is December 23, however this year – due to the five day quarantine holiday that starts on 23rd – we forecast that the peak day will be December 22’.

The highstreet figures come as images of a mountains of post bags at sorting offices spark fears about delayed Christmas presents this season. A Bristol sorting office, pictured

The highstreet figures come as images of a mountains of post bags at sorting offices spark fears about delayed Christmas presents this season. A Bristol sorting office, pictured

The highstreet figures come as images of a mountains of post bags at sorting offices spark fears about delayed Christmas presents this season. A Bristol sorting office, pictured 

Thousands of presents remain buried in mountains of post bags at sorting offices, it has been revealed. Pictured is the Royal Mail sorting office in Manchester

Thousands of presents remain buried in mountains of post bags at sorting offices, it has been revealed. Pictured is the Royal Mail sorting office in Manchester

Thousands of presents remain buried in mountains of post bags at sorting offices, it has been revealed. Pictured is the Royal Mail sorting office in Manchester

The highstreet figures come as images of a mountains of post bags at sorting offices spark fears about delayed Christmas presents this season. 

One image posted on Twitter displayed the huge pile of Royal Mail sacks in Bristol.

A second showed that sorting offices are so inundated that staff are having to stack items outside, putting parcels at risk of being damaged by rain or even stolen. 

Union bosses are reporting similar scenes across the country and have described the Christmas delivery chaos as a ‘nightmare’ after businesses complained parcels were taking up to a month to arrive.

Sorting offices are so inundated that staff are having to stack items outside, putting parcels at risk of being damaged by rain or even stolen. Pictured is a site in Essex

Sorting offices are so inundated that staff are having to stack items outside, putting parcels at risk of being damaged by rain or even stolen. Pictured is a site in Essex

Sorting offices are so inundated that staff are having to stack items outside, putting parcels at risk of being damaged by rain or even stolen. Pictured is a site in Essex

A massive switch to online shopping means there are an estimated 200million more parcels in the postal and courier system this year. Online orders are expected to be up by more than 50 per cent as internet festive shopping overtakes the high street for the first time.

The Royal Mail has hired 33,000 temporary staff to help deal with demand. 

It comes as a scarcity of online supermarket delivery slots risks sending scores of Christmas dinner plans up in smoke and many Christmas gifts are stuck waiting to arrive in Britain due to chaos at the ports.

Shoppers are desperately scrolling through slot times but finding they are fully booked or will not arrive until after December 25. 

It comes as a scarcity of online supermarket delivery slots risks sending scores of Christmas dinner plans up in smoke. The scramble for food appears to have resulted in shortages - which left one Tesco customer furious when her delivery arrived with no turkey

It comes as a scarcity of online supermarket delivery slots risks sending scores of Christmas dinner plans up in smoke. The scramble for food appears to have resulted in shortages - which left one Tesco customer furious when her delivery arrived with no turkey

It comes as a scarcity of online supermarket delivery slots risks sending scores of Christmas dinner plans up in smoke. The scramble for food appears to have resulted in shortages – which left one Tesco customer furious when her delivery arrived with no turkey

Shoppers are desperately scrolling through slot times but finding they are fully booked or will not arrive until after December 25. An Asda in London is completely booked for deliveries

Shoppers are desperately scrolling through slot times but finding they are fully booked or will not arrive until after December 25. An Asda in London is completely booked for deliveries

Shoppers are desperately scrolling through slot times but finding they are fully booked or will not arrive until after December 25. An Asda in London is completely booked for deliveries 

Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons all confirmed to MailOnline that they were grappling with a high demand for deliveries amid a festive rush. 

Meanwhile delays with Christmas presents are threatening to ruin Christmas for families and businesses. 

Many customers have complained about items arriving late, while John Lewis, Boots and HMV have blamed Royal Mail for delivery delays. Terry Pullinger, of the Communication Workers Union, said: ‘We could not possibly have anticipated this level of packets and parcels, it seems to be intensifying every day.

‘That coupled with the arrangements that are going to be in place to keep key workers safe because of Covid, and the rising spread of Covid, is complicating what is already a strategic nightmare.’

Ian Trehearne, branch secretary for Gloucestershire, said sorting offices have been ‘flooded’ and had been ‘under the cosh’ without let up since April.

Link hienalouca.com

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