Millions hit the high street to splurge £1.2billion on last minute Christmas bargains in biggest shopping day of year

MILLIONS of Brits will hit the high street to splurge £1.2billion on last-minute Christmas bargains on the biggest shopping day of the year.

Customers headed for the shops early this morning to stock up on gifts, food and decorations ahead of the big day.

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Early morning shoppers hit Northumberland Street in Newcastle 

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Early morning shoppers hit Northumberland Street in Newcastle Credit: 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

It’s thought up to 8.5 million of us will visit stores before following the Government’s advice to isolate ahead of meeting friends and family in Christmas bubbles.

And with people avoiding shops later this week, traders are expecting their biggest day of the year.

Stores will stay open late to help social distancing.

Council officials installed hand sanitiser posts in Kent’s shopping districts.

The county, which is in Tier 3, is currently the UK’s worst-hit area for Covid.

But it didn’t deter shoppers who visited a bustling Christmas market in Dartford.

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

The streets of Nottingham – which is also in Tier 3 – are heaving today as customers in masks stock up on presents for loved ones.

And huge queues built outside supermarkets from first thing this 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.

Even in Tier 3 areas, non-essential shops can remain open.

But there’ll be nowhere for shoppers to rest their feet and enjoy a mulled wine, as all restaurants, pubs and bars must stay shut.

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.

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

“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.

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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