If you walked down Manchester's Market Street on Monday lunchtime, you'd be forgiven for thinking that life was entirely "back to normal" on the city's shopping thoroughfare.

Thousands of shoppers packed into stores, buskers were belting out songs, even charity "chuggers" were back out trying to get you to sign up to a subscription at every turn.

It was the first day of lockdown restrictions easing across the UK, and the first time since Christmas that the people of Greater Manchester have been able to head out to the shops.

And there was certainly a Boxing Day sales atmosphere in the city, with many heading out at the crack of dawn to queue outside Primark and the Arndale Centre's JD sports and Size trainer stores to be the first in line for bargains.

Queues on Market Street early on Monday morning

For many it was simply a relief to be out of the confines of their house for the first time in months, doing something "normal" again.

Like stocking up on new Primark undies for the first time in a year like 70-year-old Pat Mason from Ancoats, or getting some new clothes for the kids like 30-year-old Salford mum-of-two Kayla Bowers.

Simple tasks that most of us took for granted up until a year ago.

Pat, proudly wearing her Manchester bee mask, laughed: "I had to come out to Primark to get some new underwear - it's been a year! They wear out so quickly don't they."

Pat Mason on Market Street with her Primark buys

While Kayla said: "I'm back in work tomorrow having been off since Christmas so it's just nice to get out today and do something normal."

Kayla Bowers, a 30-year-old mum of two from Salford was out on her birthday, and headed to Primark to buy lots of things for her daughters and some treats for herself
Kayla Bowers with her Primark haul

There was the lure of a mega bargain too over at the city's landmark Debenhams building which has reopened for its massive closing down sale.

Although walking through the aisles of the once booming department store as the shelves were being stripped empty of bargain perfumes and electricals, while rows of redundant mannequins eerily looked on, felt really rather bleak.

But with prices slashed by up to 70 per cent in the store, it's not hard to see why people were so eager to head back out onto the high street, even if it did mean braving the crowds.

And even if it was just for an impulse buy of some cut-price cereal bowls.

Lewis Leer and Ollie Woodards with their bargain buys at Debenhams

For those who decided against a trip into town on Monday, many expressed a sense of disbelief at the scenes of a packed city centre.

There are clear worries that, after months of strict lockdown, so many thousands of people suddenly mixing together inside shops is going to have an impact on coronavirus cases across the region.

Most people were doing their best to follow social distancing measures and wear face masks in the queues outside stores and also inside - but in the busiest hotspots like Primark at times it did feel quite overwhelming.

And no one wants to see scenes like those outside the Arndale first thing on Monday where people were pushing and jostling just to be first to get inside a shop for a pair of trainers.

A group of eager shoppers outside the Arndale shopping centre this morning

But, whether you agree with the timetable out of lockdown or not, this is the start of Manchester getting back to business, and the city is going to need the support of consumers every step of the way.

And on Monday, there's absolutely no doubt the people of Manchester did that in droves.