SHOPPERS poured into Oxford yesterday as non-essential shops were able to open for the first time in four weeks.

After a quiet start in the city centre, with shops being relatively empty, streets such as Cornmarket and Queen Street were bustling by lunchtime.

The county-wide Tier 2 restrictions mean that all non-essential shops are allowed to reopen.

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Main routes into Oxford, including Botley Road, were packed with traffic in the morning, though the shops took longer to fill up.

By midday, though, Oxford was filled with shoppers and people eating out.

The Oxford Mail spoke to some independent businesses who reopened for the first time in weeks.

David Bunting, manager at The Cake Shop in the Covered Market, said: “We are delighted to be back. We were managing online orders and telephone orders but now we have the public coming in.

Oxford Mail:

“We have been a pretty busy business today which is great news.

“We are looking forward to being back, it has been a long time.

“I had people knocking on the door at 8.30am even though we don’t open until 9am – they were dying to come in and buy stuff.”.

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Most of the local businesses this paper spoke to in the Covered Market, however, said they thought it was quieter than expected.

Sam Mellish, owner of Next to Nothing in the Covered Market, said: “It has been fine there has been a steady trickle of customers, but not quite as busy as we hoped it would be.

“It might be that lots of other people have had to go back to work so they are not out shopping yet, and the weekend might be crazy.

“We are prepared, we are here, we have got our stock. It does make it quite hard to know how much stock we need, but I am sure people will be here.”

Oxford Mail:

Susie Gutteridge, who works at one of the stalls in the Covered Market said: “We are really happy to be reopen, obviously.

“It has been very quiet, so I think, understandably, people are quite cautious about coming out, maybe they are thinking it might be busy today, so they don’t want to come out.

“If anyone is still worried about coming out, we will continue to send and deliver to them.”

Nazz Ashkar, manager at Oxford Market Barbers, also commented on how quiet the covered market was in the morning.

He said: “We are so excited and happy to be back again.

Oxford Mail:

“Our team is ready and well prepared, following all the guidelines to deal with the big wave of people who want to go out, but unfortunately it has not been as busy as we thought it would be.

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“The whole Covered Market has been quiet today actually: there are a little bit more people than usual, but not as much as expected or hoped.

“It is a tough time for all businesses in town, especially small local ones.”

Ruby Khan, manager of Ansari in the Covered Market, said: “So we have been looking forward to reopening for quite a while, so it is just a nice feeling to be open for customers.

“I wouldn’t say it has been busy, especially for December: it has been better than how it has been prior to the last lockdown, but it hasn’t been busy.

“It is just nice to see people and have a chat.

"We have had a lot of browsers, but it is nice to see people, and it is helping a lot of the cafes in here now that we are open.

“It is lovely to be back and nice to see, and hopefully moving forward it will be better.”

Tasmin Evan-Higgins, manager at Blackwell’s Arts and Poster shop, said: “It is a strange time to reopen a shop, it is hard work, but we are really looking forward to three weeks worth of trading before Christmas.

“There has been a really good, steady flow. Initially, I thought we were going to be dead today, but we have had a good mixture of students and locals coming in.”

Oxford Mail: