‘It went a bit mad’: shoppers make the most of last few days as lockdown looms

Pre-lockdown queues at Primark in Norwich, extending up Hay Hill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Pre-lockdown queues at Primark in Norwich, extending up Hay Hill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Shoppers have been making the most of the last few days before lockdown hunting down essential items, gifts, and festive greetings cards.

Primrose and Richard Burton of Sentiments in Great Yarmouth. The shop had a busy morning as people t

Primrose and Richard Burton of Sentiments in Great Yarmouth. The shop had a busy morning as people try to cram in their Christmas shopping before the second national lockdown Picture: Liz Coates - Credit: Archant

Boris Johnson announced a month-long national lockdown at the weekend meaning Christmas shopping has been instantly bought forward for those looking to avoid a December rush.

Norwich and Great Yarmouth were both noticeably busier with queues outside some city shops.

At Sentiments card shop in Yarmouth market place owner Richard Burton said: “It went a bit mad.”

“Everyone is a bit worried about if they can get their cards in. It is one of the worst times for us to close. The uncertaintly makes it very difficult for everyone.

The pre-lockdown queue for the Card Factory in Norwich is extended across the Haymarket as customers

The pre-lockdown queue for the Card Factory in Norwich is extended across the Haymarket as customers start buying Christmas cards. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

“Hopefully it will do the trick and we will all have a nice Christmas.”


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At Quality Books sales had also been briefly lifted by the looming lockdown.

Heather Jenner said for a November Monday business had been brisk with several people saying they were stocking up to stay at home.

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Of the lockdown she said: “If it’s got to be done November is fine - as long as we are back open in December. It that’s what the Government thinks is right then I am happy to stay with it.”

David Stone from Great Yarmouth was in the town centre on Monday doing some last minute shopping wit

David Stone from Great Yarmouth was in the town centre on Monday doing some last minute shopping with his wife before non-essential shops close under the second Government lockdown on Thursday November 5 Picture: Liz Coates - Credit: Archant

Among those making a special trip into Yarmouth to visit non-essential shops before they closed was David Stone.

The 79-year-old of Palgrave Road said he and his wife were out buying presents as well as essentials on what would probably be their last day out of the house until December 2.

With many shops already closing permanently in the town centre he said he was worried about what sort of town centre they would be returning to once the lockdown was lifted.

Meanwhile Wendy Lindsay, 74, from Lowestoft, said she usually shopped in Yarmouth two or three times a week.

The Flower Shop in Great Yarmouth's Market Gates has reduced all its stock by 25pc ahead of the lock

The Flower Shop in Great Yarmouth's Market Gates has reduced all its stock by 25pc ahead of the lockdown on November 5 Picture: Liz Coates - Credit: Archant

“I will miss coming to Yarmouth,” she said, “I am getting some bits for Christmas because you cannot guarantee what’s going to happen. All you can do is buy gift cards and hope the shops are still there when this is over.”

At Market Gates centre manager Nick Spencer said they were preparing for Thursday’s lockdown and that on Monday the centre was noticeably busier.

At The Flower Shop, just inside its front entrance, all prices had been slashed by 25pc to try and shift stock before they closed.

In Norwich on Monday morning, most shops were busier than usual, while short queues had formed outside Wilko, Primark and branches of Card Factory on Haymarket and St Stephen’s Street.

Pre-lockdown queues at the Card Factory in Norwich, as customers start buying Christmas cards. Pictu

Pre-lockdown queues at the Card Factory in Norwich, as customers start buying Christmas cards. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

One customer waiting outside Card Factory said she thought the new lockdown would last longer than the planned end date of December 2.

“I think that’s just something they told people to reassure them,” she said. “I didn’t expect to be out buying my cards this early, but better to be safe than sorry.”

In the Chantry Place shopping centre, there was a line outside Lush.

“I only came out to get some shampoo - and I thought it would take two minutes,” said one woman in the queue, who added that the thought of another lockdown made her feel “weird, just weird”.

Wendy Lindsay from Lowestoft said she would miss shopping in Yarmouth during the month-long national

Wendy Lindsay from Lowestoft said she would miss shopping in Yarmouth during the month-long national lockdown due to end on December 2 Picture: Liz Coates - Credit: Archant

Meanwhile in west Norfolk, the streets were emptier than usual, with the number of vacant parking spaces suggesting most people were already staying at home.

At the Hardwick retail park outside King’s Lynn, the toilet roll aisle in Sainsbury’s had been almost stripped bare, though a member of staff said new supplies were arriving daily.

Fruit and vegetable shelves in the supermarket also appeared depleted.

On the town’s London Road, illuminated signs continued to warn people of the government’s mantra: “Hands, Face, Space”.

Quality Books on Great Yarmouth's Market has seen a flurry of sales with people stocking up on readi

Quality Books on Great Yarmouth's Market has seen a flurry of sales with people stocking up on reading material ahead of the second lockdown announced on October 31 Picture: Liz Coates - Credit: Archant

Further up the coast, there was far less traffic than normal, while the car park at Lidl’s normally busy Heacham store appeared two-thirds empty.

The new national restrictions from Thursday mark the first time since May that people in Norfolk and Waveney will be restricted to meeting just one person from outside their household at a time - and only outdoors.

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