'We've planned our day around shopping': Sheffield shoppers flock to Primark after months of closure

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Sheffield opened up again today – with pubs, bars, restaurants, shops and hairdressers welcoming their first customers in six months.

Monday, April 12 marked the next stage of the Government’s coronavirus ‘roadmap’, the carefully staged easing of Covid rules which should see us free of any restrictions by June.

This meant hospitality could once again open for outdoor service, while shops could accept customers inside in limited numbers and hairdressers could begin the mammoth task of chopping off unruly lockdown locks.

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In Sheffield city centre the expected rush didn’t arrive first thing, but by midday main shopping streets like the Moor were feeling more like normal, with hundreds of people taking the chance to visit shops they had been locked out of for the better part of half a year.

At Primark on the Moor, the queue stretched round the block but most customers didn’t have to wait too long to get inside.

Sheffied Hallam University students Emma Howard and Tiegan Haynes said they had been looking forward to visiting fast-fashion favourite all week.

"It’s the best place to get underwear and socks,” said Emma. “And we’ve seen the new spring and summer ranges on TikTok so we’re excited to actually have a look at them.”

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Sheffield opens up: Jonathan Towey.Sheffield opens up: Jonathan Towey.
Sheffield opens up: Jonathan Towey.

Another student, Lydia Burley, agreed. She said she had ‘planned her entire day around’ shopping, with Primark first in line.

“I’ve got no clothes left and all my socks are full of holes,” she said. “I want to get some new stuff for when the clubs and bars open later in the year.”

Further up the Moor, queues coud also be seen at Debenhams and H&M, while plenty of people were enjoying the sunshine outside the cafes which dot the busy shopping street.

Debenhams was advertising its closing down sale, after the department store became one of the pandemic’s many retail victims late last year.

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Sheffield opens up: Lydia Burley.Sheffield opens up: Lydia Burley.
Sheffield opens up: Lydia Burley.

What will happen to the huge premises is still unclear, but it is obvious that the impact of Covid will continue to be felt on the high street for years to come.

While on the Moor shopping was the order of the day, on Division Street more seemed to be interested in today’s other main attraction – beer.

By 11am there was a smattering of drinkers in Lloyds, a Wetherspoons pub near Barker’s Pool, as well as a short queue for the limited outdor space they had been granted by Sheffield Council.

By midday this had increased a bit, but the predicted hoardes had so far yet to put in an appearance with some perhaps deterred by the decidedly chilly April temperatures.

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Sheffield opens up: The Forum beer garden.Sheffield opens up: The Forum beer garden.
Sheffield opens up: The Forum beer garden.

Further up Division Street, queues could be seen outside the Preloved Kilo vintage clothes shop and the Dapper Chaps barbers, who were having to make do with only one chair.

And by early afternoon, a queue had begn to form outside the Forum, a True North pub which has one of the most popular beer gardens in the city.

One of those waiting outside the Division Street watering hole was Jonathan Towey, from Barnsley.

Sporting a freshly cut ‘mullet’ hairdo, Jonathan said he had made a beeline there after getting his hair cut for the first time in months.

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“I don’t care what I have – any lager will do,” he said. “I can’t wait.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.