HUNDREDS of shoppers headed into Poole town centre, as all non-essential stores were allowed to open for the first time in three months.

Lockdown measures have been relaxed in the hope of giving local economies a much-needed shot-in-the-arm.

Primark, H. Samuel, H&M, Clarks, River Island and Deichmann Shoes are among the shops that have reopened today.

The Dolphin Shopping Centre's Sport Direct drew large queues, with dozens of people queuing out of the main shopping centre doors to get in.

Bournemouth Echo:

Meanwhile, stores such as Primark – which were also proving popular – were operating a one way system, in much the same way most supermarkets have been doing in recent months.

Other stores set to open in coming days include Subway on Tuesday, Warhammer on Wednesday and Greggs on Thursday.

The Next store will open on Wednesday. June 24.

Shoppers entering from inside the shopping centre and exiting by the taxi ranks.

There were also dozens of town centre staff on hand to help people get to grips with the social distancing measures in place, and most stores maintained hand sanitiser stations.

Bournemouth Echo:

Steve Reilly, of Poole Town Centre BID, said: "It has been really good to walk the town centre and see lots of smiling faces as restrictions ease, businesses are also pleased to see customers back. 

“We continue to work with BCP Council and traders to ensure distancing measures are in place and to strengthen the message where we see opportunities.

“It has been good to see businesses have implemented the government guidelines to help everyone feel safe and to shop with confidence.”

Poole resident Michael Day told the Daily Echo: "I didn't quite know what to expect so I popped into town late morning.

"It wasn't packed by any standard, but there are certainly crowds. It does feel like a step closer to the return to some kind of normality." 

Another shopper said she could understand why some people may not feel safe, particularly more elderly residents, in some of the shops.

"To be fair, there are one-way systems in place throughout the Dolphin Centre and most shops I've been into, but some of the smaller shops are going to struggle.

"There are also people sitting on the town centre benches and not all of them appear to be social distancing.

"I think lots of people will be waiting to see how things go."

Bournemouth Echo:

One of the biggest queues outside Poole town centre was at John Lewis, Poole Retail Park, Branksome.

The John Lewis at Home store was one of the chain's first to open post lockdown.