An army of bushy-tailed and bright-eyed shoppers descended on Edinburgh’s Fort Kinnaird laying siege to a car park that had laid barren for over three months.
Armed with their wallets, purses and ‘bags for life’, many headed straight for Primark, and joined the queue of around 50 people (as of 9am on Monday), ready for the upcoming battle at Edinburgh’s outdoor retail park.
Although, there wasn’t a hustle and bustle, to speak of.
Following First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement that non-essential shops could reopen from today with social distancing measures in place following over three months of Covid-19 lockdown, the expectation was one of a rowdy Christmas eve, last-minute shoppers frantically shoving items into shopping bags at a rate of knots.
She had taken the time to warn potential shoppers of their responsibilities on Twitter just this morning, highlighting the potential danger of people rushing to their favourite shop and disregarding all the health advice issued to date.
The reality was quite the opposite.
The security staff on the door were handling the queue admirably, ensuring social distancing was adhered to and keeping the flow moving as smiling shoppers exited through a separate door, armed with large brown bags, ‘Primark’ emblazoned across the front.
Speaking to residents in the queue, I was expecting them to be looking to replace worn down slippers or pajamas that have developed holes in uncompromising places through the constant use throughout a lockdown that has seen many stay in their sleepwear for days on end.
But, to my surprise, the majority were just going for a browse and to get out of the house, something they haven’t been able to do for a considerable amount of time.
There was a sense of trepidation in the air. Covid-19 hasn’t gone away, but this felt like a marker had been placed on the road that so many have been yearning for a return to some semblance of normality.
The second longest queue of the morning took me by shock.
Hobby Craft, the Mecca for crafters up and down the land, had a queue of around 10 people outside its doors.
In hindsight, as one person pointed out on Twitter, perhaps not that surprising given the fact so many of us have caught the crafting bug while being confined between our own four walls.
The car park was filling as I made my exit, with cars being attracted to the empty spaces towards the giant Primark which sits like a beacon at one end of the retail park.
And it’s worth noting too, that it will be a baptism of fire for many of the staff working today.
For months, like the rest of us, they will have been caged up in their homes, many furloughed. Remembering basic processes which will have been like second nature at the start of the year will take time, as will the familiarisation of the new safety measures which have come into place.
Be patient. Be respectful. But most of all, be kind.
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