Long queues on Oxford Street as non-essential stores open for the first time since March

Customers carry bags of shopping as they leave Primark on Oxford Street Credit: PA

Hundreds of people queued along Oxford Street today as non-essential stores reopened for the first time since March.

One of the largest queues was outside the Nike Town store at Oxford Circus where people patiently waited in line.

Ricky Young, who turned out to buy trainers, said it felt like a return to some kind of normality. Asked if he expected it to be busy, the 38-year-old plasterer said:

No, I actually thought people might have been sleeping or didn’t want to go out. But the doors are open again, it’s back to almost normal, back to business – but we just have to line up.

Ricky Young
People queueing at the Nike Town store Credit: PA

One keen shopper said she was “ready to move on” from the Covid-19 crisis.

Kasia Ruta, 39, said she was pleased life was becoming more normal again as she waited outside the Zara clothing store.

However, another shopper said being asked to queue is making her think twice about shopping as she waited outside the Apple store on Regent Street.

Kristina Taylor joined a line of customers ahead of the store’s opening at 10am, hoping to have her iPhone screen protector replaced.

I just need to have my screen protector replaced, that’s all. It’s just something that has been niggling me since day one.

Kristina Taylor

Asked if she was pleased about shops reopening, she added:

Yes and no. I will pop by Primark to see the queue. But not keen on all of this queueing, it makes me think twice about whether I need something from that shop. Luckily it’s the time of year when the weather is kind to us too.

Kristina Taylor
A skate boarder passes a hand sanitiser station on Oxford Street Credit: PA

Customers queuing for the Apple store had their temperatures checked by staff before being allowed to enter. They must also wear face coverings when inside.

Masks were handed out by members of staff, who clapped when the first shoppers entered the store at 10am.

A sign asks customers a series of questions, including if they are experiencing symptoms or have been in contact with a positive case.

Giraffes at London Zoo Credit: PA

Long queues of people formed outside London Zoo in Regent’s Park, west London, ahead of the park’s reopening.

Parents and children were asked to respect two-metre social distancing and many wore face coverings.

Jamie Turner, site manager for ZSL London Zoo, said just under 2,000 tickets had been sold for Monday and that the return of so many customers was “beautiful to see”.

However, despite the queues a survey showed less than half of people in the UK felt comfortable returning to clothes shops.

Results of YouGov polling carried out earlier this month suggested just 40% of people were comfortable to go back into such stores and only 48% think they would be able to stay the required two metres away from other shoppers.

Forty-one per cent of people said they believe it is the right time for the shops to reopen but 39% said it was too soon.

Today is clearly an important milestone in returning the country to normality, however there is a lot of work to be done yet to convince shoppers that it’s business as usual.

Oliver Rowe, director of reputation research at YouGov