Great Britain

Locked-down Brits rush back to pubs, gyms and shops for ‘Wild Wednesday’ spending spree

BRITS rushed back to pubs yesterday as lockdown lifted — downing 10million pints and scoffing a record number of Scotch eggs.

Some pubs in Tier 2, covering 60 per cent of boozers, had bumper breakfast sales as keen drinkers started the day with a Full English and their first bar drink in a month.

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Elsewhere punters gulped down Scotch eggs after ministers including flip-flopping Michael Gove eventually agreed they formed the “substantial meal” necessary for service.

Jade Wood, 27, enjoyed a pint of Moretti lager with her egg at the King Edward VII pub in Stratford, East London, and said: “It’s so great to be out of lockdown at last.”

Raising a glass with Raj Patel, 31, she added: “We should make the most of pubs that can open.

“People should stay an extra hour, have an extra Scotch egg and enjoy an extra glass of mulled wine, because we don’t know what’s around the corner.”

Carer Jack Cooper, 21, of Greenwich, South London, tucked into an 11am full English with a lager as soon as The Montague Pyke on Charing Cross Road, in the centre of the capital, opened its doors.

He said: “Having a can at home just isn’t the same.”

At the Pipe and Port in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, duty manager Julie Howe said a £6 prawn sandwich was enough to let customers order alcohol.

She said: “How many drinks a customer can have with their meal is down to our discretion.

"There’s a lot of grey area. We wouldn’t stop them unless they were drunk.”

Drinkers got a further boost when No 10 confirmed pubs can team up with a local chippy or takeaway.

A spokesman warned ordering a Deliveroo to a pub was against the rules.

But they added a pub can sell booze if they enter a “contractual arrangement” with a nearby eaterie and orders went through the landlord.

They said: “It’s for both customers and venues to act reasonably and to exercise good judgment when adhering to these regulations.

“But businesses that do not ordinarily serve food may enter into a contracting arrangement with other local restaurants, for example, in order that they are able to do so and remain open.

“Allowing customers to bring in food that has been purchased elsewhere in order to consume alcohol remains prohibited.”

Mark and Debbie Daniels, who run The Brewers Arms in Worcester, have already teamed up with their chippy next door.

Customers must buy a fish supper from pal Nick Zititi at St Johns Fish Bar before they can get a pint.

They said they are already £14,000 in debt from paying rent on the pub during the two lockdowns and need to be open in the run-up to Christmas.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock initially rebuked pub bosses trying to get round new rules.

But quizzed by Sky News, he was unable to say if letting customers eat a McDonald’s at their table was illegal.

He would only say: “I don’t think it’s appropriate to push these boundaries on these rules.”

There were no such issues in Cornwall — one of the few regions in Tier 1 — with drinkers toasting their luck at the Five Degrees West bar in Falmouth.

Meanwhile the day dubbed Wild Wednesday also saw a stampede to stores with shoppers splashing out £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.

Around £1.5billion was spent in stores and another £1billion online, data trends from a Centre for Retail Research study with showed.

Barclaycard’s Rob Cameron said many shops opening for the first time in a month had coincided with pay day at the weekend.

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.

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.

Recruitment consultant Jermaine George dashed to the store in Oxford Street after the website crashed when a million people tried to access it at the same time.

"I spent £500 so I think I got a pretty good deal. I don’t know how much I got off but I think it’s about half price.”

At John Lewis’s nearby flagship store, staff on doors helped limit numbers, with booked appointments all taken.

Debenhams was also particularly busy at Lakeside in Essex, Stockport and Nottingham.

Primark saw queues from 6am in Birmingham with similar scenes in Newcastle and London.

More queues formed outside JD Sports — just as they did when shops opened in June after the initial lockdown.

Kiki Yazyaz, 20, from Knightsbridge, West London, said: “It’s been nice to go out shopping again. I bought three pairs of trainers.”

Barbers, hairdressers and gyms opened again too. Some fitness fanatics even started pumping iron just past the stroke of midnight.

They flocked to Zone Gym in Hornsey, North London — fined £67,000 for ignoring the lockdown — as it opened its doors legally for the first time in four weeks.

Boss Andreas Michli, 34, said: “So many business owners are suffering, so it’s great to see the buzz here tonight and the excitement now that we are opening up again.”

Rose Videtta, who has owned and run Hairlines hair salon in Bletchley, Bucks, for 30 years, was busy after booking customers in for the end of lockdown as soon it was announced a month ago.

Tier 2 drinkers celebrate end of lockdown with beers in pubs

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