Stores including TK Maxx, Primark and Sports Direct saw people starting to queue from early in the morning, with a “steady” flow of visitors to the Bridges.

And although the opening of shops has been seen as a welcome return by city centre organisations, people are still being advised to obey the new rules.

“We have had a steady stream of people come into the centre with certain stores being exceptionally busy,” said Duncan Allen, Building and Services Director at the Bridges.
“People are getting used to the new one way system yet and when our security team have pointed it out to them they have been very receptive and taken notice of the advice.”

Shops in the centre have put hand sanitisers in place, along with those which have also been added by the Bridges in key locations.

Retailers have praised shoppers, with comments including “everyone was very understanding,” “had a great first day” and “very happy” with the way the day had gone.

Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID, said the city centre had been busy and appealed to people to remember the new rules.
The BID has installed eye-catching signage across the city centre, reminding people about maintaining anti-social distancing.

“We can understand that after months in lockdown people want to get out again and shop,” she said.
“We are delighted that shoppers are coming to Sunderland to support their local retailers, which is the best way to help the local economy recover.
“However we still want everyone to be mindful of the fact that COVID-19 hasn’t gone away and that it’s really important to remember the socially distancing rules so that everyone is safe and secure.”

Further store openings in the city will take place throughout the week, with Debenhams opening its doors on Wednesday (17 June).

Photo Copyright Robert Graham

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