RESIDENTS from across the conurbation have hit the high street as shops and restaurants across Dorset have reopened today.

Many shoppers took to the streets to grab Christmas presents and show their support for independent business, who have been crippled by the most recent lockdown.

However, queues of customers were seen outside of Debenhams and Topshop in Bournemouth. It follows this week's news that both companies went into administration.

One Bournemouth resident said: “I have already been to Debenhams and I’ve just been into Primark as well. The queue was pretty long when I joined it, there were around 20 people in it, but it was moving pretty quickly.

“It is pretty busy, and a lot of people are wearing face masks and staying safe but some of them are wearing them under their noses.

“What is the point in wearing one? We have had to wear them for months now but people still do not know how to wear them properly.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Alan Rowett, owner of The Vault record store on Old Christchurch, added: “It is good to be back open, but we have three weeks left until Christmas.

“I haven’t seen a particularly big increase in the number of people coming in. So far it has been an average Wednesday.

“Saturday will be the really test. If Saturday is a flop, then it is going to be trouble.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Whilst shoppers mingled around the Bournemouth shopping area, council workers were busy installing Christmas decorations and seating on the pedestrianised area of Old Christchurch Road.

Bournemouth Echo:

Police officers, security guards and Covid marshals were seen patrolling the town centre, whilst members from Bournemouth Town Centre BID, Watson CCS and Slick Events ensured the streets remained clean and well signposted Covid-19 safety messages.

Bournemouth Echo:

A Covid marshal said: “It has been fine so far today. Everyone seems to be chilled and just happy to be out and shopping again.

“The only shop that people are queuing for is Debenhams and the store seems to be managing people well there.”

Car parks at Castlepoint Shopping Park and Mallard Road Retail Park were full as people continued their Christmas shopping and checked out the recently opened stores, including the new B&M store which opened today in the former Homebase store at the Mallard Road Retail Park.

Bournemouth Echo:

Elsewhere in the conurbation, many shoppers in Christchurch, Westbourne and Southbourne ventured out to their high streets to call in at their local independent shops.

Poole town centre was busy, with crowds milling around Falkland Square and the Dolphin Shopping Centre.

Whilst many smaller shops didn’t report exceedingly high sales on their reopening after the most recent lockdown, business owners were relieved to be back open and greeting customer through their doors.

Bournemouth Echo:

Owner of Westbourne Bookshop Paul Angel said: “It is great to be back open again and to welcome customers back to the shop.

“It has been busy but a lovely atmosphere in the shop. There does seem to be a nice buzz around Westbourne today, everyone is happy that shops and restaurants are back open again.

“It has been really busy this morning, a lot of our regulars had waited patiently for us to reopen and have been relieved to come back.

“Some of the comments we have had have been really nice. One lady said to me that she has waited and waited for Westbourne to wake up again and another one said that the village doesn’t seem right without the bookshop open.”