The British flocked to the main streets to do Christmas shopping on Saturday after stores reopened after the nationwide lockdown was lifted.
At the start of an expected £ 1.5 billion buying frenzy, shoppers in Manchester were presented with bags of goods and queued for shops to let them in.
On the first day off since the lockdown ended on December 2, shoppers will hurry to close Christmas deals with prices cut by up to 80 percent.
A market research agency forecast the mammoth spend for a day and said 56 percent of shoppers are willing to spend more than they had planned for the festive season.
Retailers hope today's purchases bring life to a sector that has been hit by the shutdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Two out of three smaller companies and the self-employed had to stop trading at some point in the past six months, as new studies show.
Meanwhile, UK chief medical officers have warned that the Covid vaccine will have "little impact" on hospital numbers over the winter as the four nations prepare to begin administering the first doses next week.
The shopping scenes come after thousands of drinkers hit bars in Soho, London last night and also defied the wintry York weather for a sip.
The British flocked to the main streets to do Christmas shopping on Saturday after stores reopened after the nationwide lockdown was lifted. Pictured: Buyers in Manchester stand in front of the Debenhams and Zara, which will soon be closed
At the start of a likely £ 10 billion shopping spree, shoppers in Manchester were portrayed with bags of goods, waiting in queues for stores to let them in
On the first day off since the lockdown ended on December 2, shoppers will hurry to close Christmas deals with prices cut by up to 80 percent
The number of customers visiting stores rose 85.2 percent on "Wild Wednesday" – the day England emerged from its second lockdown. According to Springboard, the climb was "practically twice as high" as expected.
The pubs curfew has been extended to 11 p.m., but they are grappling with the new regulations. In tier 2 they can only serve alcohol with a “substantial meal” and in tier 3 they are restricted to take away.
However, retail expert Andy Bromley, director of Spark Emotions, told the Daily Express that British shopping spree could hit £ 10 billion this weekend.
"We estimate that physical retail stores alone could spend up to £ 10 billion this weekend if shoppers return to main drag," he said.
& # 39; This week we conducted our monthly Mood Of The Nation survey, which measures shoppers' attitudes and spending habits. The prospect of going back to the stores for Christmas shopping has added excitement and happiness to shoppers.
"Retailers will try to capitalize on this positive emotional state. 56 percent of shoppers in the survey say they are willing to spend more than they planned to enjoy Christmas."
The forecast is based on estimates that Covid-19 could cost small businesses a total of up to £ 69 billion, according to insurer Simply Business.
Pictured: A woman carries packed Primark bags as she walks around Manchester earlier today
A market research agency forecast the mammoth spend for a day and said 56 percent of shoppers are willing to spend more than they had planned for the festive season. Pictured: Christmas shoppers start early this morning in Manchester
The shopping scenes come after thousands of drinkers hit bars in Soho, London last night and also defied the wintry York weather for a sip
York revelers brave the wintry weather on Friday night ahead of the first weekend after lockdown restrictions were relaxed. Under Tier 2 restrictions, pubs can only serve alcohol with a “substantial meal”.
Two night owls head to York, which is tier 2 restricted. This means that pubs can serve alcohol if it is accompanied by a substantial meal
Groups of people sit outside a bar in Soho, London, on Friday night after coronavirus restrictions were eased following the end of England's second national lockdown on December 2nd and most of the country was placed in Tier 2
In a report on Small Business Saturday, the company said many small business owners live in fear of the consequences another national lockdown would have on their business.
A separate study by American Express found that nearly half of non-essential independent retailers believe that the survival of their business depends on the sales they can make between reopening December 2nd and Christmas.
A record 17.6 million people helped small independent businesses on Small Business Saturday last year and spent an estimated £ 800 million, the financial giant said.
Union leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “Small businesses across the country have made tremendous efforts in this crisis. “They stepped up when needed, supported their local communities and made great sacrifices to fight the spread of the virus.
Two police officers were chatting with night owls in York on Friday night when the British left despite the wintry weather
A pedestrian street in Soho, London, filled with evening drinks after coronavirus restrictions were eased following the end of England's second national lockdown on December 2nd
People drinking outside a bar in Soho, London after coronavirus restrictions were eased following the end of England's second national lockdown on December 2, with most of the land being placed in Tier 2
People served outside a bar in Soho, London after the second national lockdown ended earlier this week and England entered an intensified tiered system of coronavirus restrictions
People drinking outside a bar in Soho, London after England entered a reinforced tiered system of coronavirus restrictions. In tier 2, pubs can only serve alcohol with a “substantial meal” and in tier 3 they are restricted to take away
On Friday night, after England's second national lockdown ended, three people sat at a table drinking outside a bar in Soho, London
People drinking outside a bar in Soho, London after coronavirus restrictions moved to a tiered system following the end of England's second national lockdown
'Now we have to repay it. On this Small Business Saturday and beyond, we can all do our part to help small businesses shop safely where we live, including online, or order in local restaurants. & # 39;
Ed Miliband, secretary for shadow business added, “Stores, pubs, manufacturers, hotels and hairdressers, beauty salons and suppliers, breweries and bakeries, and small businesses of all kinds have been at the forefront of the economic crisis.
“This is a day to celebrate the millions of these small businesses at the heart of our communities and the workers they employ. They represent the best of our country. & # 39;
Michelle Ovens, Director of Small Business Saturday UK said: & # 39; The lockdown and closure of non-essential stores has resulted in a compressed Christmas trading period for small retailers in a critical time for many small businesses.
& # 39; We're optimistic that stores that are ready to reopen now and many small businesses who are really entrepreneurial with the tactics they use to attract buyers – including making the most of Small Business Saturday UK – will be able to will be to compensate for lost sales.
"Buyers are also keen to give small businesses more support this year."
People drinking outside a bar in Soho, London after England entered a heightened tiered system of coronavirus restrictions following its second lockdown
A couple of drinks outside a bar in Soho, London, last night before the first weekend after the second national lockdown in England ended on Wednesday
People drinking under a protected area outside a bar in Soho London after the second national lockdown ended and England entered a tiered system of coronavirus restrictions
It is because general practitioners in England are scheduled to start vaccinating people against coronavirus from December 14th. Individuals 80 and over will be the first to receive the shocks given in vaccination centers formed by groups of general practitioners.
The UK became the first country in the world to approve the sting on Wednesday after regulators gave it the green light after evidence showed it was 95 percent effective and safe.
However, experts have warned that celebratory gatherings are likely to put additional pressure on health services with some difficult months ahead.
In a letter to their colleagues, the four chief physicians said that this winter was "particularly difficult" for the healthcare system due to the coronavirus.
They wrote: “While the very welcome news about vaccines means we can look forward to 2021 with greater optimism, vaccine use over the next three months will have little impact on reducing the number of patients who receive come to the health service with Covid.
“The actions and self-discipline of the entire population during the lockdowns and other restrictions have helped lower the peak, and hospital numbers are expected to fall in most parts of the four nations in the next few weeks, but not everywhere.
"The social mingling that happens around Christmas can put additional pressure on hospitals and general practitioners in the New Year and we need to be prepared for that."