Excited Brits braved snow and ice for the aisles of JD Sports, Primark and TK Maxx on Monday, as months of shopping restrictions came to an end in England.
In towns and cities, eager spenders queued from midnight for pints while others waited in line for an early-morning haircut, as barbers and salons pulled up their shutters.
It sent footfall figures rocketing, with the number of people on the high street up 218% by 9am.
Springboard, which records spending data, said shopping centres visitors had risen by 340%.
Across the high street, consumers are tipped to blow £1billion in the next 24 hours as England’s economy reopens. An estimated 12million people are set to go shopping as many take advantage of 10pm closing times.
On twitter, people shared queues outside Primark, TK Maxx and JD Sports as crowds gathered in the thousand.
Desperate sportswear fans were seen fighting to join queues for limited edition Air Jordan and Nike Dunks trainers as JD Sports opened its Oxford Street outlet opened for the first time this year.
Police were also called to deal with overcrowding outside Manchester Arndale shopping centre this morning as non-essential retailers reopened.
Officers had to help security in calming the crowd as they waited outside the main Market Street entrance.
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Many waited in line in sub-zero temperatures as snow swept large parts of the country.
One astonished customer on social media wrote: “People really set they alarms just to get up and queue up for Primark and TK Maxx?”
Another stunned shopper said: “People got the first train into London this morning, to get in a queue for JD sports & Selfridges. Let that sink in.”
A third added: “With retail literally just reopening, Primark are predictably proving to be super popular - with long queues outside Primark stores across the country. Sports Direct, JD and TK Maxx also seeing big queues.”
However, some were left furious as people were captured without face coverings.
“Just so we’re all clear, #lockdown hasn’t ended today. We’ve all understood that right? Like, there is still a lot of measures in place that still need to be followed. I definitely haven’t seen people referring to today as it ending at all, have I?”
“Queues form at JD Sports, TKMaxx, Wetherspoons & Primark - this is how we value the sacrifice made by NHS staff & other keyworkers. I hope you got a good bargain... #Queues,” another quipped.
A third said shoppers have returned to their old habits.
“The queues outside Primark and JD Sports this morning are depressing. We have a climate emergency and must wean ourselves off cheap throwaway clothes that destroy the environment in production and later when thrown out, let alone exploiting cheap labour.”
Outside one Ikea store in Bristol, queues snaked around the length of the car park as fans gathered for flat pack furniture.
In Primark, one shopper told Somerset Live that they spent over £100 this morning celebrating the return of high street shopping.
They said: "I think I've got a problem - I just spent over £100. It was great to feel a bit normal though," the customer added.
Boris Johnson urged the nation to "behave responsibly" as life took another step back towards normality, with indoor gyms, swimming pools, nail salons and zoos welcoming customers today.
April snow showers made al fresco dining a chilly prospect in parts of southern England but the wintry conditions appeared to do little to dampen enthusiasm as customers queued outside shops and waited for hairdressers to cut locks after months without a trim.
Despite the relaxation in lockdown rules, social mixing indoors will remain heavily restricted, with around two in five adults yet to receive their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and the vast majority yet to get both.
The Prime Minister urged caution during the "major step forward" as a scientist advising the Government warned the rules must be followed to minimise a possible rebound in case numbers.
"I'm sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long, and for everyone else it's a chance to get back to doing some of the things we love and have missed," Johnson said.
"I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember 'hands, face, space and fresh air' to suppress Covid as we push on with our vaccination programme."
Modelling by Government advisers in the UK has suggested that Monday's relaxation will not result in a surge of cases that would put pressure on the NHS, but it is "highly likely" that there will be a further resurgence in hospital admissions and deaths after subsequent steps along the road map out of lockdown.
Secret Spa co-owner Emily Ewart-Perks, who opened her beauty company's at-home salon services up for clients at midnight, said Monday's bookings are set to double the company's best-ever day to date.
She added: "It's so amazing. It's just been such a long time coming."
In England, pubs and restaurants have been making changes during lockdown to maximise their ability to serve customers outside.
But the British Beer and Pub Association estimates that just 40% of licensed premises have the space to reopen for outdoor service.
At the Royal Victoria Pavilion in Ramsgate, believed to be the biggest pub in the country, thirsty customers cheered as the first pints were served.
Pippa Ingram, 51, and Sue Bell, 55, were presented with the first drinks on a chilly morning in Ramsgate, Kent at the Royal Victoria Pavilion, believed to be the largest in the country.
Ingram said: "Absolutely delicious. It's not gonna last long at all! That is banging."
In response to the easing of restriction, the Metropolitan Police said it will be "stepping up" patrols in high footfall areas from Monday.
Jane Connors, the Met's Deputy Assistant Commissioner, said: "The Met is ready to welcome back people to the streets of London. We will be stepping up our patrols to busy high footfall areas, to look out for everyone's safety and to disrupt any criminal activity.
"Of course, where we need to take action against those who dangerously flout the rules we will do. While the case rate has declined in London, we have seen the concerning position in northern Europe. It is important that we all stick to the rules so further lockdowns, or restrictions, are avoided."
The next significant date is May 17, when socialising indoors will be permitted under the "rule of six" - if the Prime Minister judges that the vaccination programme is safely breaking the link between infections and deaths.
After three months of full national lockdown, the Government said on Sunday that a further seven people had died in the UK within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test. Another 1,730 lab-confirmed cases were also announced.
Around 61% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to official figures suggesting that more than 32 million people have received a jab. More than 14% have had both doses.
Johnson welcomed a "record-breaking day" for second doses after figures reported on Sunday stated a rise of 475,230 jabs.
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