North East shoppers flood the Metrocentre as Primark opens for 24 hours

On December 2, the doors to non-essential shops were re-opened for the run up to Christmas. Here at Fashion North, we headed to the Metrocentre where Primark had opened up it’s doors for 24 hours.

@fashion_northPrimark’s crazy queues for the 24 hour event at the Metrocentre!! ##primark ##24hrs ##shoppingcenters ##shopping

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Following the government’s announcement that stores would be able to open for 24 hours, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said:“These changes mean your local shops can be open longer, ensuring more pleasant and safer shopping.”

Primark’s store at the Metrocentre was one of 11 to open up for 24 hours, although the aim was to avoid mass gatherings it appears the longer opening hours had the opposite effect.

By 7.10am – just 10 minutes after opening – the store had over 300 bargain hunters inside. An enormous queue was formed by customers waiting to head into the store. Shoppers arriving at 23:15 were informed by INTU staff that if they were to join queue, they would be waiting for four to five hours before being able to enter the store. Previously in the night the queue had extended into the car park- leaving shoppers out in the cold.

A continuous stream of bargain hunters were seen to be joining the queue in the hopes of getting the best deals. With a high number of people waiting to go into the store, social distancing measures were few and far between with there being little to no distance between those waiting.

Primark’s new candy-cane bags which can be used as wrapping paper

We spoke to those who were brave enough to join the queue to find out their thoughts.

Natasha McPharlin, who we caught leaving the store, said: “I came for Christmas presents, I anticipated it to be busy but not like this. I think everyone has had a bad year and it is a little bit of excitement we’re allowed out and Primark is open.”

Another shopper who had recently left the store said: “We arrived at 21:00 and waited two hours before getting into the shop, we were told 40 minutes when we arrived. There isn’t enough space in the shop to socially distance, everyone is sort of on top of each other.”

Anna Groves- Henry, who was debating whether to join the queue, said: “I really did not expect the queue to be so long, there is a lot of security but I have seen quite a few people without masks on and there isn’t much social distancing. I think it is more to monitor the number of people and check everything is okay. I don’t think it should be open 24 hours all the time but maybe once or twice through December since it is a busier time for people shopping for Christmas.”

We contacted Primark for comment in which a spokesperson said: “Employee and customer safety are Primark’s highest priority. We are closely following all government advice at our re-opened stores and have rigorous health and safety measures in place, including a strict social distancing protocol and limits on the number of customers allowed in store, with dedicated Primark employees and security staff on hand to manage queues. Our Metrocentre store is currently open with extended hours in place to help safely reduce queues by spreading shopping hours over a longer period of time.”

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