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London re-opens for non-essential retail - in pictures

Lauretta Roberts
15 June 2020

Primark, Zara, Sports Direct and other sports footwear retailers appeared to be the big winners on the first day of shoppers returning to the stores.

On London’s Oxford Street Sports Direct had a queue a block long an hour after opening with shoppers telling that they had been tempted in by the sale and the 50% discount for NHS workers.

Sports Direct

The queue for Sports Direct

Sportswear, as during lockdown, seemed to be a big draw for shoppers with queues outside Nike Town, JD Sports and Size? – the latter being the only lively spot on an otherwise deserted Carnaby Street.

Sports Direct

Sports Direct introduced new signage

Both of Oxford Street’s Zara branches had queues attracting a mostly younger clientele, some of whom told us they were drawn to shop by the sale and others by wanting to see “what’s new in”.


Primark was a popular destination

Primark too had attracted the crowds with its distinctive brown paper shopping bags being the most visible along Oxford Street. The value fashion retailer was expected to be a big draw since it has not been available to buy online during lockdown creating pent-up demand among its fanbase.

Primark staff manage queues

Higher end retailers were quieter. Selfridges was attracting a lot of attention from media crews but queues were modest and only a few shoppers deep (though a steady flow of consumers were entering the store), with no one waiting to enter Fenwick or Liberty, despite the latter being on sale.

Selfridges windows

Some older and more affluent consumers did come out with some telling us that they were keen to take advantage of a quiet City to shop for luxury in peace. "I may never get the chance to see London like this again," said one. Retailers will be hoping that's the case as more footfall will be needed to help offset the costs of a lost quarter.

Oxford Street at midday

On the encouraging side, shoppers seemed unfazed by the new safety precautions and said they felt confident going back into stores. If they'd made the effort to come out, they weren't going to be put off by having to sanitise their hands at every turn and, for young shoppers at least, wearing masks was nothing more than another opportunity to accessorise.

Oxford Street

Shoppers wore face masks with style

As the Government continues to consider relaxing rules, such as reducing the social distancing gap from 2m to 1m, and allowing hospitality to re-open, it should encourage more shoppers to come out, as long as the much-feared "second wave" doesn't hit.

Social distancing signs on Oxford Street

Watch our exclusive video of scenes from central London and shoppers telling us what they came out to buy and why.

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