We visited the 24 hour Primark in Bluewater the first night of the level 3 restrictions and it got rammed

It was 23 nights before Christmas and throughout Kent people were shopping late at night.

These are not the words of a horrible rhyme, but a reflection of the fact that Bluewater’s Primark made the unusual decision to open for 24 straight hours.

Kent was plunged into Level 3 restrictions yesterday (December 2), meaning stores could open for Christmas shopping and Primark bosses were keen to capitalize on the holiday rush.

As a result, hundreds of people flocked to the mall after completing work to take advantage of the late hours.

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‘Hope it’s not too busy’

The parking lots were filling up
(Image: KentLive)

When we got there at 10.50pm the parking lot was bustling with activity.

We decided to go inside to find out what kind of people were doing their late night Christmas shopping.

At the entrance we met Rebecca and Laura, both 37, who had made the trip from Strood on the spur of the moment.

“We decided to come down only an hour ago,” explained Rebecca, “we thought why not? ”

Everyone was heading to the same place
(Image: KentLive)

The concept of an all-night Primark is understandably new to the pair, and Laura admits she doesn’t know what to expect.

She said, “I don’t know how busy it’s going to be. We saw a lot of people come out, but hopefully it’s quieter inside.

“We only came to pick up a few Christmas pieces. ”

Primark was hit

Store assistants were on hand to sort out the numbers
(Image: KentLive)

Unfortunately, the mall is anything but quiet.

While all stores are closed, there is a constant stream of shoppers, some in small groups and others on their own, heading towards the Primark which is flanked by crowd control staff.

Once we get inside and sanitize our hands, the view is something to behold.

Primark was pushing
(Image: KentLive)

The store is packed, crowded with shoppers moving between the aisles to browse the endless selection of clothing.

Presentation tables are covered in discarded clothes, and salespeople rush into the fray to help and direct customers.

In the center of the store, two large queues that stretch around the store have formed.

If you had to estimate the number of people in each, it would be in the hundreds, which would make social distancing virtually impossible.

The lines were difficult to move away socially
(Image: KentLive)

Hovering next to one of the snakes, we speak to Sally, who has traveled from Dartford with her daughter to participate in the races.

She works as a chef and tells us her working hours prevent her from doing her groceries at times that are convenient for her.

She explained, “We didn’t really get far.

“My daughter told me about late night shopping so we thought we might as well.

“I work late at night, so this is one of my only chances to buy things for my grandchildren.”

“I came down from London to buy basics”

Every section of the store was teeming with people
(Image: KentLive)

Considering Kent’s ignominious position as the only Level 3 area in the South East, the sheer numbers of people in the store seem hard to justify.

And surprisingly, it wasn’t just the locals who were drawn to the mall for the late night shopping spree.

Grace Diver, 22, tells us that she stepped down from Tier 2 South London after hearing about the event on Instagram.

The government has advised against all inter-level travel except for work, education, youth services, medical care or family responsibilities.

Clothes were strewn across the tables
(Image: KentLive)

This Grace admits that is not the reason she came.

She explained, “I needed to get the basics and the essentials.

“It’s not as bad as I thought, I thought it was going to be more packed than that.

‘We came for the experience’

Alys and Lorrisa traveled from Tier 2 Bexley
(Image: KentLive)

Alys Cratchley, 26, and Lorrisa Harris Jones, 21, also left Bexley’s Level 2 neighborhood for some of the action.

After being cut off from shopping for a month as part of the second lockdown, Alys says they found the prospect of a 24-hour Primark “exciting.”

She said, “We have come for the experience. It’s exciting. ”

“We actually wanted to arrive at 2 am to prevent people from coming by bus,” Lorrisa added.

Like many other buyers, Alys works irregular hours as a delivery person and enjoys the chance to take her time with her purchases.

She said, “We don’t have a lot of time to shop so we want to get as much as possible to make it worth it after such a long queue.

“It’s nice to be able to walk around without anyone rushing us.”

I think I’ll shop online instead
(Image: KentLive)

After scanning the aisles ourselves, then rethinking the ever-longer queue, we decide it’s not worth it and leave the store.

As we enter the parking lot, we see a series of vehicles exiting the site.

The spaces they’ve occupied are quickly filled with a flood of new customers as the 24-hour Level 3 shopping spree continues into the night.

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