Thousands queue outside Primark stores across England as chain reopens 153 branches

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The high street went into meltdown on Monday morning after Primark reopened its doors for the first time in more than three months.

Huge queues were spotted as early as 6am, forcing the chain to reopen some of its stores early to avoid overcrowding.

In Oxford Street and Birmingham, fans swarmed around entrances, while in Liverpool, one store was forced to raise its shutters early.

In Wolverhampton, shoppers tweeted crowds of more than 100 at 8am, with similar scenes in Hull, though the city centre store refused to allow shoppers in before 9am.

“Many shoppers are trying to look through the windows to see which products are in stock at Primark,”  one shopper tweeted.

A total of 153 Primark stores will reopen to the public – with two metre social distancing and one-way queues in place, from Monday.

Safety measures will include extra security staff, warning signs and revised hours as the chain slowly reopens for business.

However, in line with Government guidelines, staff and customers will not be required to wear PPE or face coverings inside stores.

On entry, there will be blue bubbles on floors outside, reminding people to stay two metres apart as they wait in line.

Every branch will also have a separate entrance and exit, with marshals on hand to keep count of how many customers come in and out.

Basket handles will be cleaned after every use and customers will be asked to use a contactless hand sanitising unit.

Liverpool Echo reporter Elle May Rice, who was down at the city centre store for the reopening, said: “There are barriers as you come in as well so it’s one way in, one way out. Stock is much more spaced out than usual too.”

Are you out shopping or are you working in a store today? Get in touch at [email protected]

However, to the disappointment of shoppers, bosses have written off rumours of a ‘blow out’ sale, as the company looks to ‘hibernate’ all unused stock for summer 2021.

From Monday, all returns will be processed via contactless cards and shoppers will be asked to pay at every other till to avoid congestion in stores.

Philippa Nibbs, Primark’s director of sales, told the Mirror: “We are incredibly excited about opening next week. The safety of our customers and employees is our number one priority and you’ll see throughout the store the extensive measures we’ve put in place to support that.”

Every other till will also be closed to avoid congregation at the checkouts.

A spokesman for the chain told Mirror Online: “Nothing matters more to us than the health and wellbeing of our employees and customers.

“That is why we will only re-open our stores in the UK once we are convinced that it is safe and right to do so.”

The company said it’s taken lessons from its experiences so far, after already reopening stores in Italy, Germany, France, the US, Portugal and Spain.

“We will apply the valuable experience gained from more than 100 stores which are already open as we open the remainder of our estate, including stores across the UK,” Primark said.

“Social distancing protocols, hand sanitiser stations, perspex screens at tills and additional cleaning of high frequency touch points in the store are among the measures we are implementing.”

New returns policies will also be in place when stores reopen.

“We have extended our Refund & Exchange policy in light of our temporary store closures and the impact COVID-19 may have on our customers,” Primark said.

“Products purchased on or after February 1 2020 can be returned for 28 days after the date our stores in the country of purchase re-opens.”

We’ve got a full lust of the shopping rules you’ll have to follow from today, here.

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