What shoppers had to say as 'non-essential' Hartlepool businesses reopen
Hartlepool shoppers paid a long-awaited visit to Middleton Grange Shopping Centre after “non-essential” businesses reopened on April 12.
Long orderly queues formed in front of several of the centre's popular retailers on Monday morning with dozens waiting to get into Primark.
Shoppers also lined outside JD Sports and Hays Travel.
Middleton Grange manager Mark Rycraft said he was “really pleased” with the turnout and people’s compliance with social distancing measures.
Mr Rycraft said: "People have been excited to just get out and browse, and look and feel items, not necessarily to buy anything, but just to feel the experience of coming out and shopping.
"We’ve been really pleased with how customers have observed the Government guidelines that we’ve implemented in the centre. I couldn’t be more proud of the community that we serve.”
Mr Rycraft thanked customers, staff and retailers and added: "I think it’s been a rewarding day for a lot of people today.”
Pauline Burgess, from the Bishop Cuthbert area of town, went to Bonmarche and said: "I’m 80 and I don’t come in very often.
"I knew it would be busy today, but I wanted to get a couple of things that I’ve been waiting to get. I just wanted to go to Bonmarche and nowhere else.”
Pauline continued: “I’m looking forward to talking to people and meeting people. I’m looking forward to getting my hair done.”
Sarah Thompson, 39, from Clavering, said the first day back at the shops was "hectic".
Sarah went to the shopping centre as she ended up having some spare time while her car was at the garage.
"I had no intention coming in to town, but I dropped my car off at the garage and they said 'give us an hour.'
She had a short visit to Next and Primark.
Shopper Sonja Mason, 67, wanted to have a look and see which shops were open.
She said: “It’s good to be back. I was looking for some vests.”
Mr Rycraft has said he expects a steady flow of customers throughout the week.
"We’re really excited to see the shopping centre back in full form. It’s great to see customers coming back into the centre
"Lots of smiling faces, lots of bags as well, people are coming out and spending money, it’s great to see."