What shoppers and business owners said as customers flooded back into Sunderland city centre
Sunderland shoppers defied the freezing temperatures to make the most of the chance to splurge as non-essential shops , pubs and bars reopened for the first time since England’s third lockdown began.
Queues formed early outside Primark in High Street West ahead of the store’s 8am opening this morning, Monday, April 12, despite the icy chill.
Steve Cain had traveled from South Shields to claim his place at the front of the queue: “I got here at ten past six,” he said.
"I have just come to get some eyelashes for my lass – they sell out really fast.”
Another Primark shopper Angela Morse, 49, was shopping with niece Olivia Parkin, 26, and the pair spent around £200 in the shop.
"I loved it. I'm really happy - it's class," she said. "I got the bus down - I've not been on the bus for months.
"I'm off to River Island and New Look to see what they have got, then I'm getting my hair cut later.
"I can't wait.”
There were also big queues at Debenhams which has reopened for a stock clearance sale before the store closes for good.
Laura Gooch, 29, runs No IV Hair and Beauty in Derwent Street: "It's the best day of my life," she said.
"The buzz and the rush of being back at work is better than getting your presents from Santa.
"It's heaving today. I've got 15 booked in and we're still only allowed to have two people in the shop.
"We have to disinfect everything between each customer."
Mates Ian Tunstall, 71, and Vic Thirlwell, 66, from Hendon were waiting outside the Cooper Rose and looking forward to a pint of Carling: "It's fantastic to be back," said Ian, "just to see your mates again."
Vic explained: "We would normally go to Jameson's but they have not got the space outside. I'm just looking forward to getting back to normal and we'll play it by ear today."
Sharon Appleby is head of business operations for Sunderland Business Investment District, she said: “It does seem to be going really well.
"The numbers are really good not just a from a retail point of view but with other businesses too. Beauty salons, barbers and nail bars all seem to be doing very well too.
“We are really pleased. A lot of people are wearing masks, observing the rules on social distancing and following the guidelines, which is excellent.”
Bridges Interim Marketing Manager Joanne Wilkins added: “We had queues at both Primark and Debenhams – it is good for everybody to get out, it is exciting.
“We’ve not had any problems with people not doing what they are supposed to do. Everybody knows the rules by now.”
East Herrington salon Reds was one of the businesses reopening today.
Owner and director Susan Hall said: “I’m so excited to be open again, and it’s been great to see the Reds team and so many clients. We’re really busy and there’s a buzz about the place – lots of chats and laughter, which is lovely.
"It’s like we’ve been asleep for a few months and everyone is waking up.”