Christmas market in Nottingham is forced to shut after just 24 hours

An outdoor Christmas market in Nottingham has been forced to shut after just 24 hours due to overcrowding – as thousands of shoppers ignore social distancing rules on the first weekend after the second national lockdown.   

Shocking pictures showed hundreds of people rammed together in Old Market Square – in the centre of the city which is in Tier 3 – for the first day of the Christmas markets on Saturday. 

It has now been shut temporarily after organisers were criticised for a lack of social distancing. 

The Mellors Group, which runs the event in conjunction with Nottingham City Council, said: ‘In light of the unprecedented high footfall seen up and down the country for retail nationally, we have decided to temporarily close the Christmas market today.

‘The pent-up demand for a city-centre offer was far higher than normal and we feel this is the most appropriate way forward.’

Nottinghamshire Police said officers were at the market all day to provide visible presence and to break up large crowds in the area. The market was set to run from 10am to 9pm every day until Christmas Eve.

The original decision for the market to go ahead came as similar events in other cities were cancelled including in Birmingham and Manchester. 

It comes on what is the second non-working day since lockdown ended on December 2, where shoppers were out in force in the hope of snapping up Christmas deals. 

Shoppers in Kington, Herefordshire were pictured carrying bags of goods and waiting in queues outside Marks and Spencer. Many also wrapped up warm to hit soon-to close Debenhams and Nike stores on Oxford Street in central London.  

Huge crowds are pictured at the Christmas market in Nottingham on Saturday. The Market has now been shut temporarily after large crowds gathered at the attraction

Huge crowds are pictured at the Christmas market in Nottingham on Saturday. The Market has now been shut temporarily after large crowds gathered at the attraction

Huge crowds are pictured at the Christmas market in Nottingham on Saturday. The Market has now been shut temporarily after large crowds gathered at the attraction

Britons headed out in their droves to high streets on Sunday to do Christmas shopping after outlets re-opened following the lifting of the nationwide lockdown. Pictured is Oxford Street in London

Britons headed out in their droves to high streets on Sunday to do Christmas shopping after outlets re-opened following the lifting of the nationwide lockdown. Pictured is Oxford Street in London

Britons headed out in their droves to high streets on Sunday to do Christmas shopping after outlets re-opened following the lifting of the nationwide lockdown. Pictured is Oxford Street in London 

Many also wrapped up warm to hit soon-to close Debenhams (pictured) and Nike stores on Oxford Street in central London

Many also wrapped up warm to hit soon-to close Debenhams (pictured) and Nike stores on Oxford Street in central London

Many also wrapped up warm to hit soon-to close Debenhams (pictured) and Nike stores on Oxford Street in central London

However the crowds proved too much in Nottingham - which is under Tier 3 restrictions - with pictures showing thousands of people rammed together in Old Market Square (pictured) on the first day it opened on Saturday

However the crowds proved too much in Nottingham - which is under Tier 3 restrictions - with pictures showing thousands of people rammed together in Old Market Square (pictured) on the first day it opened on Saturday

However the crowds proved too much in Nottingham – which is under Tier 3 restrictions – with pictures showing thousands of people rammed together in Old Market Square (pictured) on the first day it opened on Saturday

The Christmas market in Nottingham which has been shut temporarily after large crowds gathered at the attraction on Saturday. Today it is empty (pictured)

The Christmas market in Nottingham which has been shut temporarily after large crowds gathered at the attraction on Saturday. Today it is empty (pictured)

The Christmas market in Nottingham which has been shut temporarily after large crowds gathered at the attraction on Saturday. Today it is empty (pictured) 

Shoppers in Nottingham city centre on the first weekend following the end of the second national lockdown in England, with coronavirus restrictions being relaxed

Shoppers in Nottingham city centre on the first weekend following the end of the second national lockdown in England, with coronavirus restrictions being relaxed

Shoppers in Nottingham city centre on the first weekend following the end of the second national lockdown in England, with coronavirus restrictions being relaxed

As well as the Nottingham Christmas markets being forced to shut - the city centre was very busy with shoppers

As well as the Nottingham Christmas markets being forced to shut - the city centre was very busy with shoppers

As well as the Nottingham Christmas markets being forced to shut – the city centre was very busy with shoppers

The Mellors Group, which runs the event in conjunction with Nottingham City Council, said: 'In light of the unprecedented high footfall seen up and down the country for retail nationally, we have decided to temporarily close the Christmas market today'

The Mellors Group, which runs the event in conjunction with Nottingham City Council, said: 'In light of the unprecedented high footfall seen up and down the country for retail nationally, we have decided to temporarily close the Christmas market today'

The Mellors Group, which runs the event in conjunction with Nottingham City Council, said: ‘In light of the unprecedented high footfall seen up and down the country for retail nationally, we have decided to temporarily close the Christmas market today’

It is not clear when the Nottingham Christmas Market (pictured very busy yesterday) will reopen but it was the first weekend it had opened

It is not clear when the Nottingham Christmas Market (pictured very busy yesterday) will reopen but it was the first weekend it had opened

It is not clear when the Nottingham Christmas Market (pictured very busy yesterday) will reopen but it was the first weekend it had opened 

On what is the second non-working day since lockdown ended on December 2, shoppers were out in force in the hope of snapping up Christmas deals with prices slashed by up to 80 per cent. Pictured is Oxford Street in London

On what is the second non-working day since lockdown ended on December 2, shoppers were out in force in the hope of snapping up Christmas deals with prices slashed by up to 80 per cent. Pictured is Oxford Street in London

On what is the second non-working day since lockdown ended on December 2, shoppers were out in force in the hope of snapping up Christmas deals with prices slashed by up to 80 per cent. Pictured is Oxford Street in London 

On the second day of what is expected to be a £1.5billion spending spree during the festive period, shoppers in Kington, Herefordshire were pictured carrying bags of goods and waiting in queues outside Marks and Spencer

On the second day of what is expected to be a £1.5billion spending spree during the festive period, shoppers in Kington, Herefordshire were pictured carrying bags of goods and waiting in queues outside Marks and Spencer

On the second day of what is expected to be a £1.5billion spending spree during the festive period, shoppers in Kington, Herefordshire were pictured carrying bags of goods and waiting in queues outside Marks and Spencer

Shoppers riding electric scooters on Oxford Street in London on the first weekend following the end of the second national lockdown in England

Shoppers riding electric scooters on Oxford Street in London on the first weekend following the end of the second national lockdown in England

Shoppers riding electric scooters on Oxford Street in London on the first weekend following the end of the second national lockdown in England

Games designer Luke Brown, 24, from The Meadows area of Nottingham, said there were at least a couple of hundred people at the market, describing it as ‘crazy’.

He said: ‘I was on the outskirts of the market as there were so many people on the inside, many people were not wearing any masks at all and there was definitely no two-metre distancing.

‘I was highly uncomfortable being there so we literally went home after five minutes.’  

Last night hundreds of young people tried to enter Harrods, causing mayhem by gathering outside the London store and prompting four arrests after police swooped in. 

On the high street retailers hope today’s purchases will breathe life back into a sector which has been hammered by the shutdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The lifeline for struggling stores comes after a week of high street woes as 26,500 jobs were put at risk at retailers including Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group and Debenhams – which have been severely impacted by the pandemic. 

Two out of three smaller firms and self-employed workers have had to stop trading at some point in the past six months because of crisis, new research suggests. 

With less than three weeks until Christmas, shoppers are being urged to shop locally in a push to save small businesses from financial ruin. 

But despite a festive flurry on the first Saturday since the second national lockdown was lifted, retail industry figures show around a third fewer people visited English high streets compared to this time last year. 

Data from retail analysts ShopperTrak shows footfall was down 29 per cent year-on-year as many erred on the side of caution despite non-essential shops being allowed to reopen from Wednesday. 

Shoppers walk along Oxford Street past queues for stores on a cold Sunday afternoon in London. There were similar scenes in the capital yesterday

Shoppers walk along Oxford Street past queues for stores on a cold Sunday afternoon in London. There were similar scenes in the capital yesterday

Shoppers walk along Oxford Street past queues for stores on a cold Sunday afternoon in London. There were similar scenes in the capital yesterday

Shoppers on Oxford Street in London on the first weekend following the end of the second national lockdown in England, with coronavirus restrictions being relaxed

Shoppers on Oxford Street in London on the first weekend following the end of the second national lockdown in England, with coronavirus restrictions being relaxed

Shoppers on Oxford Street in London on the first weekend following the end of the second national lockdown in England, with coronavirus restrictions being relaxed

With less than three weeks until Christmas, shoppers are being urged to shop locally in a push to save small businesses from financial ruin. Pictured is Oxford Street in London

With less than three weeks until Christmas, shoppers are being urged to shop locally in a push to save small businesses from financial ruin. Pictured is Oxford Street in London

With less than three weeks until Christmas, shoppers are being urged to shop locally in a push to save small businesses from financial ruin. Pictured is Oxford Street in London

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant at the consumer analytics firm, said retailers will be hoping ‘pent-up demand’ will continue through until the last Saturday before Christmas – dubbed Super Saturday – on December 19, if shops are to have any hope of a decent Christmas.

While Saturday did see shopper traffic increase by 193 per cent nationally week-on-week, Mr Sumpter said ‘many are still keenly feeling the impact of lockdown’.

‘Instilling confidence in physical shopping journeys and reassuring consumers that stores are safe will be the cornerstone to ensuring shoppers keep returning, not just to support shops, but also their local communities that rely on the high street,’ he said.

There was a drop recorded in numbers heading to London’s West End, home to one of the world’s most popular shopping destinations. 

The New West End Company, which represents 600 businesses in London’s shopping district, said it saw footfall decline by 37 per cent year-on-year.

A spokesman said: ‘Safety is our top priority, and since lockdown has lifted we have been regularly refreshing protective measures such as hygiene hubs and clear street markings to promote social distancing.’

Shopper numbers plummeted last month with the reintroduction of tighter coronavirus restrictions, with data from trade association the British Retail Consortium and ShopperTrak showing footfall for November across the UK dived by 65.4 per cent compared with the same month last year.

Insurance providers Simply Business estimated two out of three smaller firms and self-employed workers have had to stop trading at some point in the past six months due to the crisis.

It found Covid-19 could cost small businesses up to £69 billion, while a separate study by American Express suggested that almost half of non-essential independent retailers believed their survival depended on sales in the run up to Christmas.

As Britons headed to the shops, data from travel firm TomTom showed that congestion levels in all of England’s major cities were higher than this time last week.

The shopping scenes come after thousands of drinkers headed out last night to bars in Soho, London. 

Shoppers queue outside the Nike Town London store on Oxford Street ahead of its opening this morning

Shoppers queue outside the Nike Town London store on Oxford Street ahead of its opening this morning

Shoppers queue outside the Nike Town London store on Oxford Street ahead of its opening this morning 

Shoppers queue outside Debenhams on Oxford Street in London today. Shoppers returned to Englands high streets this week as shops reopened following the end of a four-week coronavirus lockdown

Shoppers queue outside Debenhams on Oxford Street in London today. Shoppers returned to Englands high streets this week as shops reopened following the end of a four-week coronavirus lockdown

Shoppers queue outside Debenhams on Oxford Street in London today. Shoppers returned to Englands high streets this week as shops reopened following the end of a four-week coronavirus lockdown

Shoppers on Oxford Street in London on the first weekend following the end of the second national lockdown in England, with coronavirus restrictions being relaxed

Shoppers on Oxford Street in London on the first weekend following the end of the second national lockdown in England, with coronavirus restrictions being relaxed

Shoppers on Oxford Street in London on the first weekend following the end of the second national lockdown in England, with coronavirus restrictions being relaxed

As Britons headed to the shops, data from travel firm TomTom showed that congestion levels in all of England's major cities were higher than this time last week. Pictured is Oxford Street in London

As Britons headed to the shops, data from travel firm TomTom showed that congestion levels in all of England's major cities were higher than this time last week. Pictured is Oxford Street in London

As Britons headed to the shops, data from travel firm TomTom showed that congestion levels in all of England’s major cities were higher than this time last week. Pictured is Oxford Street in London

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