Croydon sees first Christmas shoppers after lockdown

By Tara O’Connor

After a month of lockdown, shoppers were keen to crack on with their Christmas shopping in Croydon this morning.

While the town centre did not see massive queues like Oxford Street, it was busy in the high street.

The Primark queue was flowing and far shorter than the day before the lockdown started, but shoppers were queuing outside the Next Outlet store which has just opened.

Some were ready with a mental list of Christmas presents to pick up while others, like 19-year-old Karim Iqbal, were just excited to be able to browse in the shops again.

He said: “I’ve been looking forward to getting out. I think in the lockdown some people were following the rules but some people weren’t and for school kids it is going to be hard when they are mixing with thousands of people then aren’t supposed to mix outside of school.”

Hermine Ross was joining the queue at the Next Outlet and planned on getting started on her Christmas shopping.

She said: “I think we are going to have to wait and see if the lockdown has worked, everybody is moving around in London so it is difficult.

“I was expecting it to be busy in the shops today but I have been excited about things opening up again.”

Jackie and Roger Nott were waiting in a queue outside Vodafone to sort out a phone issue, for the first time this Christmas it will be just the two of them without their children and grandchildren.

Jackie said: “As we’ve been on our own we’ve decided to just be the two of us this Christmas. It will be very sad but we’ve got little grandchildren and can’t risk putting them or us at risk.”

Roger added that he wished they were at their second home in Portugal during the lockdown and not facing Tier 2 restrictions here.

And it’s not just shops that had to close their doors for a month – this morning marked the opening of hairdressers and beauty salons.

Continental Salon has been based in the Whitgift Centre for more than 35 years.

Ayhan Ozeli, who runs it with his son, said he hopes December will be a busy month for the salon.

He said: “We are not terribly busy yet, when we came back after the last lockdown it was very busy, people were queuing up.

“We hope that before Christmas we will get more busy, we have lost a lot of money this year.

“I think people are still a bit nervous to come in, I have had customers ring to check that we are wearing PPE.”

CEO of Croydon Business Improvement District (BID), Matthew Sims, said that the chancellor Rishi Sunak needs to do ‘whatever it takes’ to support businesses.

He said: “Businesses are approaching a cliff edge and need the Government to provide a parachute in sector specific measures to stave off mass closure and job losses.”

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