Shoppers throng to retail parks for final fling as Tier Three restrictions come into force

Shopping centres were busy over the weekend as consumers flocked to retail parks to which they are now banned from travelling under new coronavirus regulations.

Intu Braehead shopping centre in Glasgow was reportedly busy at the weekend.
Intu Braehead shopping centre in Glasgow was reportedly busy at the weekend.

Retail parks such as Intu Braehead in Glasgow and Edinburgh’s Fort Kinnaird were rammed with shoppers, many of whom are likely to be from neighbouring local authority areas.

Consumers reported queues outside of stores such as Ikea in Braehead ahead of the shop opening at 10am.

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According to new restrictions which came into force today, anyone living in areas under Tier Three restrictions – where there is a higher level of coronavirus in the community - should not travel outside of their own council area for unnecessary journeys.

Intu Braehead is technically in Glasgow City council area, however the perimeter of the centre borders Renfrewshire, which means that shoppers from that local authority - or others close by such as Lanarkshire - should not visit it while the areas are still in Tier Three.

Meanwhile, Fort Kinnaird is just a couple of miles away from the border with the East Lothian council area, which is also, along with the capital city, under Tier Three restrictions.

Consumers took to Twitter to voice their annoyance at the rules when they were announced by the First Minister last week.

Frances Manley said: “So we can travel to the Fort but not to Braehead. Same tier. Seems daft.”

Another shopper, Thomas, who had visited Braehead at the weekend, added: “Judging by the number of people absolutely pouring into the Braehead shopping centre today, we’ll be locking down soon too. It was pandemonium. Fortunately I was only going to Sainsbury’s on the opposite side so avoided the heaving throngs.”

Leigh Sparks, professor of retail studies at Stirling, said that the increase in customers could have been due to a combination of factors.

He said: “The weekend weather was hideous so shoppers probably wanted to be inside if they were going out and therefore retail parks will have fared better that high streets. However, given that shopper footfall isn’t back to normal levels yet, it prob doesn’t take too many people to be travelling from other council areas for it to feel a bit busier. It could all just be coincidence, but it’s definitely possible.

"However, if there is a feeling of more restrictions coming in and you add that to the noise about the lockdown in England as well, then people might be starting their Christmas shopping a bit early.”

Peter Beagley, centre director at intu Braehead, said: “Footfall has held up very well during the past few months and this weekend was no different. We’re a popular destination for shoppers, particularly since we’ve put in place visitor safety measures in line with Scottish Government guidelines.

“These include limiting the amount of shoppers in the centre at a time; automatic hand sanitisers throughout the centre; social distancing; a one-way system for getting around the centre and enhanced cleaning regimes along with visitors and staff wearing face coverings that protect everyone in the current coronavirus pandemic.”

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