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Hundreds queue for The Range Portadown as Christmas panic buying reaches fever pitch

Queues for The Range

This was the scene in Portadown as hundreds of shoppers queued to get into The Range at the Meadows Shopping Centre on Sunday afternoon.

It appears panic buying has crept in with Northern Ireland set to go back into a two-week circuit breaker lockdown from this coming Friday, November 27.

However, The Range is one of the ‘essential’ retailers remaining open during that period – scenes like those witnessed today and captured by Gillian Calvert (see video below) seem to suggest otherwise.

A service update on the company’s website read: “As we stock thousands of essential everyday products across 184 stores, we received confirmation from Trading Standards that we could remain open during the first lockdown.

“We can confirm that, just like the first time, all our stores will remain open during the current lockdown and continue to trade our full offer in a safe and responsible way.”

While The Range may be allowed to open, cafes and close-contact services across Northern Ireland, which have been permitted to re-open this weekend, will be closed again within a week.

And with toy shops set to close for the first couple of weeks of December, stores were packed this weekend with shoppers hoping to get on top of their Christmas shopping.

One Armagh I reader, who did not want to be named, said there were “incredible scenes” in one store in Armagh on Saturday, with aisles packed with people hoping to bag themselves a bargain.

Earlier this month, Chief Executive of the British Retail Consortium, Helen Dickinson described the lockdowns across the UK as “a nightmare before Christmas”.

“It will cause untold damage to the high street in the run up to Christmas, cost countless jobs, and permanently set back the recovery of the wider economy, with only a minimal effect on the transmission of the virus,” she said.

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