Tills jingle across Preston as shops reopen after lockdown

Preston city centre was bustling again today after shops were given the green light to reopen following a second lockdown.

By Catherine Musgrove
Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 6:17 pm

Undeterred by the rain and cold, mask-wearing shoppers of all ages could be seen carrying bags full of Christmas gifts , and chatting to old acquaintances.

Some shops had erected metal barriers at the front to help with queues, while security guards in shopping centres were checking on one-way systems and hand sanitisation.

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Celebrations as the lockdown is lifted in Preston

“We’ve got a few bits for Christmas”, said Andy Lee from Fulwood, who was with his wife Janet.

“But mainly we wanted to come out for a change of scenery, for something to do.

“Our attitude is, be sensible, but get on with it.

“It almost feels normal.

Shoppers return to Preston city centre on December 2, 2020

Laurence Smith and Farrah Crookes, who live in the city centre, are expecting their first baby - a boy - next month.

Farrah said: “I’ve been more organised than usual this year because of being pregnant, so I’ve only come into town to get a few maternity shirts.

“It doesn’t really feel any different to normal, nobody’s really keeping socially distanced.”

Laura Swarbrick, 27, traveled into Preston from Leyland, and managed to spend more than £75 in half an hour in Primark and Poundland.

Shoppers from Leyland: Laura Swarbrick, 27, Michelle Beggs, 41 and Stacy Hollinger, 25, with children Lucas 4, and Freya, two months

She said: “I couldn’t wait for the shops to reopen. I’ve managed to get loads of stuff for Christmas and there’s some real bargains in the shops.

“I’ve felt very safe going around, but it’s not as busy as I thought it would be. I think everyone’s put off coming thinking the first day will be really busy.”

Michelle Beggs, 41, also from Leyland, said: “I came on Monday when all the shops were shut and it was strange - very boring! It’s nice to see everything open again and the shops have done a good job keeping everything safe.”

Megan Elliott and Samantha Ross travelled into Preston from Lostock Hall.

Megan said: “We usually come into town once a week, and this will be our last trip before Christmas. It seems as busy as normal.”

Bharat Jethwa, owner of Mr Jethwa Menswear in Lune Street, said he was pleased to be reopening, and had extended his hours to make up for lost trading during the lockdown.

He said: “We usually open 10-4, but I will open 9-7 or 8 if we have to. We want people to know we’re still here and we’re trading.

“We have a website, but people still want to come and see an item, feel it.

“My concern is that this year there are no Christmas parties and no holidays for people to go on, so people will not need a new shirt, shoes or suit.”

A spokesman for Preston Business Improvement District (BID) said: “The city’s Christmas lights are lit, there’s a welcoming atmosphere, and plenty of open air in which to enjoy some retail therapy this Christmas – we look forward to seeing shopper return safely this December.”

What is Tier 3 and what is open?

Lancashire has been placed into Tier 3 - meaning the county is on ‘Very High’ alert level.

Non-essential shops have been allowed to reopen, but pubs and bars have been closed and people have been urged to stay indoors as the country strives to bring Covid cases down.

In Preston, St George’s Shopping Centre will be open until 7pm on weekdays from December 2

and on Saturday, December 19, and until 8pm on weekdays from December 16– 23. Individual store times may vary and should be checked.

From December 21, The Fishergate Shopping Centre will trade from 9am – 7pm each day, until Christmas Eve.

Free parking will be on offer from 5pm to 8pm on late nights.

Preston Bus will also be running additional services, to and from the city centre, from December 21-24. The last journey on Christmas Eve is around 6pm.

The city’s Park and Ride facility has also resumed normal operation with some additional services centred around late night trading.