LATE-night Christmas shoppers formed gigantic queues outside Primark after it announced 24-hour opening hours.
The retailer picked 11 stores across the country to remain open all day and night after month of lockdown restrictions.
Eager shoppers waited patiently in snaking queues tonight to ensure they were the first to scoop the Christmas bargains in the new 24 hour stores that opened from 12am this morning.
Hordes of people were seen braving the cold as they queued outside Primark Lakeside in West Thurrock, desperate to work through their Christmas shopping lists.
All other Primark stores will trade until at least 8pm on weekdays right up to Christmas Eve.
On Wednesday, dubbed 'Wild Wednesday', shoppers queued in the dark from 5am for the first chance of Christmas shopping in high street stores.
Primark CEO, Paul Marchant, said: “We are delighted to re-open our stores in England, with longer shopping hours to give our customers more time to safely do their festive shopping.
“All of our extensive safety measures remain in place to help ensure shopping at Primark is an enjoyable, safe experience for everyone. I would like to take this opportunity to say a heart-felt thank you to the NHS and all keyworkers.”
On Wednesday shoppers splashed out a whopping £2.8million a minute.
Queues started building up in the early hours outside Debenhams — holding a closing down sale — and outlets including Primark and JD Sports.
Barclaycard’s Rob Cameron said many shops opening for the first time in a month had coincided with pay day at the weekend.
LIST OF PRIMARK STORES OPEN 24 HOURS
He added: “Spending got busier and busier during the day as more shoppers hit the high streets — especially with many retailers extending their opening hours.”
By the evening overall spending was about the same as a year ago. He said this was “remarkable” given there were not as many office workers in city and town centres, or the usual Christmas bashes.
Many customers were cheered by price cuts as shops cleared stock or extended Black Friday discounts.
Footfall was up 65 per cent compared with a week ago across High Streets, retail parks and shopping centres, according to data experts Springboard.
It comes amid a high street bloodbath, with the jobs of around 25,000 staff at Arcadia and Debenhams hanging in the balance.
Debenhams, which is shutting all 124 stores, were selling an £89 blue Multiway maxi dress for £15, with an Alexandre of England suit down from £132 to £25, and a Moda In Pelle black Wynona high wedge heel sandals down from £80 to £16.
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One shop worker was at Lakeside in Grays, Essex, early this morning and was told by managers to expect large crowds.
He said: “There were people here at 6am to go into Primark, they all came out holding bags.
"It’s definitely not as busy as it was last time that lockdown was lifted.”