BRADFORD's shopping centres have welcomed people back on a momentous day for the retail sector.
For the first time since early January, non-essential shops have been able to open their doors as the roadmap out of the third Covid-19 lockdown continues.
The city centre was bustling as people returned to their favourite stores. Primark in particular has been a big draw throughout the day, with around 500 people queuing to get in at one point.
There was also a large queue snaking around the side of The Broadway as Debenhams prepared to open for its closing down sale.
Catherine Riley, manager at Kirkgate Shopping Centre, said: "We've been and spoken to all our retailers that we've not seen for so many months.
"It's wonderful to see so many happy faces - happy, smiling retailers and customers."
She thanked people for their patience with queues and also for wearing face coverings, social distancing and being kind to staff.
"It really does make a difference," she said.
"It's a lovely, lovely day - we are so happy to welcome everyone back. To be out there. with customers and our retailers, for everybody so visibly happy to be back - it's marvellous.
"What people are doing, they are protecting the jobs in these shops by coming out and showing faith in us."
People are also being reminded that Primark is open until 7pm, if they want to visit when it may be quieter.
Ian Ward, general manager at The Broadway, said the first day back trading has been "a really positive experience".
"It was encouraging to see shoppers waiting for the doors to open at their favourite stores and it was fantastic to see all the centre’s safety guidelines being respected too," he added.
“There has been lots of preparation over the weekend and in the run up to reopening today. Retailers have been busy merchandising and ensuring store floors are configured in a way to welcome shoppers safely.
“It’s a hugely exciting day for all involved and I hope the reopening of The Broadway marks the return of some normality by allowing people to shop beyond household essentials. We expect a steady footfall for the foreseeable future as consumers look to update their wardrobes and enjoy some long overdue retail therapy.”
Jonny Noble, manager of the Bradford Business Improvement District, said the city centre had been the busiest he had seen it in a long time.
He added: "It was really, really nice to see some of our smaller independents trading again.
"Nearly everyone had a smile on their face - it shows there was a pent up demand for that social aspect.
"I think that's what people have missed, particularly in this last lockdown."
He said while the BID want people to come into the city centre, they are urging people to stick to Covid-19 regulations, particularly when the next step of the roadmap – May 17 – is not far off, allowing the hospitality sector to welcome people back indoors.
“What we don’t want is to delay that or put that in jeopardy,” he said and urged people to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing while the pandemic is ongoing.