High Street frenzy as panicking Christmas shoppers dash to buy last-minute presents before Tier 4 begins

CROWDS flocked to the high street last night to do some frantic last-minute Christmas shopping before Tier 4 restrictions kicked in at midnight.

Desperate shoppers hit the stores for gifts after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced severe measures would be introduced across London and large parts of the south-east, starting on Sunday.

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London's Regent St was packed with shoppers on Saturday evening

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London’s Regent St was packed with shoppers on Saturday eveningCredit: 2020 Martyn Wheatley / i-Images
Shoppers were out in force in Canterbury, Kent

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Shoppers were out in force in Canterbury, KentCredit: PA:Press Association
Hordes of people flocked to Oxford St in central London to do some last-minute shopping

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Hordes of people flocked to Oxford St in central London to do some last-minute shoppingCredit: PA:Press Association
There were long queues outside a Smyths store in Cardiff

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There were long queues outside a Smyths store in CardiffCredit: Wales News Service
Many people had to queue up to get inside shops on Oxford St

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Many people had to queue up to get inside shops on Oxford StCredit: PA:Press Association
Shopper patiently waited in wet conditions

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Shopper patiently waited in wet conditionsCredit: PA:Press Association
Shoppers were looking for some last-minute Christmas gifts

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Shoppers were looking for some last-minute Christmas giftsCredit: London News Pictures

The tough measures see all non-essential shops shut, a “stay at home” order from now and through Christmas, as well as harsh travel restrictions.

Mr Johnson outlined the measures in a press conference at just after 4pm on Saturday, leaving anyone who still had presents to get only a few hours to get everything sorted.

Pictures show Oxford Street, in central London, rammed as people desperately tried to get their hands on presents for loved ones or stocking up on food for Christmas dinner.

Long queues were also seen outside stores as people waited to get inside.

Train stations, like St Pancras and Paddington, were also heaving as people desperately tried to leave London ahead of the midnight deadline.

Many Brits were left fuming at the cancellation of Christmas after millions shelled out for food, booze and gifts.

Travel and different households mixing will be banned under the new highest level tier – with families elsewhere only allowed to form ‘Christmas bubbles’ on December 25 itself, the PM told the nation today.

Boris Johnson has announced Christmas is cancelled for millions of Brits

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Boris Johnson has announced Christmas is cancelled for millions of BritsCredit: Reuters
Paddington station in West London was crammed with people trying to leave the capital

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Paddington station in West London was crammed with people trying to leave the capitalCredit: PA:Press Association

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The areas in the new Tier 4 from tonight at midnight

Kent
Buckinghamshire
Berkshire
Surrey (excluding Waverley)
The boroughs of Gosport, Havant, Portsmouth, Rother and Hastings
All 32 London boroughs and the city of London.
Bedford, Central Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes, Luton, Peterborough
Hertfordshire
Essex (excluding Colchester, Uttlesford and Tendring).

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Click the links below to find out more…

Others had been looking forward to seeing friends and family over the Christmas holiday after a tough year due to the coronavirus.

One devastated Brit said: “I’m sorry but my family have spent money on food for my family who are all coming in the next few days.

“I see my family twice a year and I am absolutely devastated, like I cannot explain how upsetting and disheartening this is.”

Brits are expected to splurge £1.2billion on last-minute Christmas bargains on the biggest shopping day of the year.

Early morning shoppers hit Northumberland Street in Newcastle on Saturday

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Early morning shoppers hit Northumberland Street in Newcastle on SaturdayCredit: North News and Pictures
Nottingham's shopping districts are crowded on the last Saturday before Christmas

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Nottingham’s shopping districts are crowded on the last Saturday before Christmas Credit: Ashley Kirk
PCSOs were out in the city centre today

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PCSOs were out in the city centre today Credit: Ashley Kirk
One Leeds shopper looked festive in a Santa hat

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One Leeds shopper looked festive in a Santa hat Credit: JOHN MATHER/IMAGEVIEW

Outside Tier 4, stores will stay open late to help social distancing.

The streets of Nottingham – which is in Tier 3 – were heaving on Saturday as customers in masks stocked up on presents for loved ones.

And huge queues built outside supermarkets from first thing in the morning.

Aldi in Southampton was heaving before the sun rose, while at Costco in Manchester, customers could be seen pushing trolleys stacked with supplies for the next two weeks.

Chelmsford, Essex is in Tier 3 - but it hasn't stopped thousands heading out to shop

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Chelmsford, Essex is in Tier 3 – but it hasn’t stopped thousands heading out to shopCredit: Nick Obank – The Sun
High streets around the country are mobbed on what's expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year

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High streets around the country are mobbed on what’s expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year Credit: North News and Pictures
Christmas markets in Dartford, Kent are busy today

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Christmas markets in Dartford, Kent are busy today Credit: London News Pictures
Queues gathered at Cosco in Manchester as shoppers stocked up on supplies 

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Queues gathered at Cosco in Manchester as shoppers stocked up on supplies Credit: Zenpix
Manchester shopping districts are busy with people grabbing last-minute buys

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Manchester shopping districts are busy with people grabbing last-minute buys Credit: Mercury Press

Officials at the Centre for Retail Research, said: “People don’t want to shop on the last days before Christmas so are buying a lot now.

“Some haven’t even started so are panicking and getting it in one go.”

Sir Cary Cooper at the Manchester Business School said: “The risk averse are obeying the Government and shopping now so they get five days clear.

“Other people will listen to the advice but make their own decision on when to shop.”

Office staff also got creative for Christmas dos.

In Tier 2 areas, just six people can meet outside in a pub garden. – and ‘substantial’ meals must be ordered.

As a result, scores of Brits staged videocall parties last night. Some bosses delivered alcohol to staff.

The car park at Bluewater shopping centre in Kent was busy today - although there were some empty spaces as the Winterland attraction has closed because of the county's spike in coronavirus cases

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The car park at Bluewater shopping centre in Kent was busy today – although there were some empty spaces as the Winterland attraction has closed because of the county’s spike in coronavirus cases Credit: London News Pictures
In Kent, which is in Tier 3, council officials installed hand sanitiser stations on the high street

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In Kent, which is in Tier 3, council officials installed hand sanitiser stations on the high street Credit: London News Pictures
Customers hit Aldi in Southampton bright and early this morning in a bid to beat the queues

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Customers hit Aldi in Southampton bright and early this morning in a bid to beat the queues Credit: w8media
Families are expected to stay indoors from tomorrow to meet the Government's requirements for Christmas bubbles

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Families are expected to stay indoors from tomorrow to meet the Government’s requirements for Christmas bubbles Credit: Mercury Press
The car park at Tesco Extra in Bar Hill, Cambridge was full this morning

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The car park at Tesco Extra in Bar Hill, Cambridge was full this morningCredit: GEOFF ROBINSON.
Queues built outside Debenhams in Oxford Street, London

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Queues built outside Debenhams in Oxford Street, LondonCredit: w8media
Many are finishing buying gifts after England's second national lockdown cut into valuable shopping time

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Many are finishing buying gifts after England’s second national lockdown cut into valuable shopping timeCredit: Mercury Press

Worker Steve Harwood tweeted: “It’s a Zoom birthday lunch with the office followed by a Zoom office party. Cheers.”

Many will stay at home from tomorrow as part of the Government’s new directives on a safe Christmas.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “If you’re visiting others over Christmas we are asking you in the five days beforehand to reduce the number of people you’re in contact with to as few as possible.”

Shoppers waited patiently outside Costco to get Christmas goodies

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Shoppers waited patiently outside Costco to get Christmas goodiesCredit: Zenpix
Tesco shelf stacker ‘sacked because he was forced to self-isolate’

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