Christmas shoppers flooded England’s high streets for the first weekend since lockdown was lifted and non-essential stores were allowed to reopen.
Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, retail experts predicted £1.5bn would be spent in shops nationwide on Saturday.
Taking advantage of the first non-working day to do their Christmas shopping, people flooded London’s Regent Street and city centres in Manchester and York.
Figures from the British Retail Consortium show High Street footfall was up 150% when lockdown lifted in England on Wednesday – compared with the week before, when only essential shops were open.
Shoppers visiting Westfield, east London and stores in central Birmingham had to contend with hundreds of anti-lockdown protesters staging demonstrations against more potential restrictions next year.
But customer numbers were still 26% lower than what they were in 2019.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan was out showing support for retailers in the West End.
Khan said: “Our shops have had a really rotten eight or nine months. This month is known as the golden month.
“I’m encouraging people to shop safely and shop in London.
“It’s really important that we support our shops at this difficult time. These shops need us. If we don’t support them, don’t be surprised if some of them close down.”