A £1.5BILLION spending spree in hard-hit pubs and shops today will help to kick-start Britain’s battered economy.
“Stupor Saturday” drinkers will raise a glass to the Covid jab, while Christmas shoppers enjoy price cuts of up to 80 per cent in stores.
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Britain’s high streets are expected to see their busiest day of the yearCredit: Kevin Dunnett
The boost comes on the first non-working day since lockdown ended.
The Campaign for Real Ale’s Tom Stainer said: “The Great British pub needs the great British public in its hour of need.”
High streets will be the busiest they have been all year — as the NHS prepares to take delivery of two million vaccine doses by the end of next week.
Shoppers are expected back in huge numbers on the first weekend following a month of lockdown.
More than 300,000 people are due in London’s West End, 150,000 at Birmingham’s Bullring and 120,000 at Manchester’s Trafford Centre.
Retail chiefs urged them to shop responsibly — with extended opening hours giving more time and opportunity to socially distance.
They also stressed that every pound spent helps protect jobs and support local communities.
Meanwhile, a million more vaccine doses are now scheduled for delivery next week — taking the total to more than two million.
With each person requiring two shots it means enough doses for a million Brits.
The NHS starts vaccinations on Tuesday from 50 hospital hubs and will need time to get up to speed. Staff at University Hospital Coventry ran through the drill yesterday.
The NHS expects to reach “tens of thousands” of people in the first week, including patients aged over 80 already in hospital.
Some care home workers will be invited for a jab and remaining stock will be offered to NHS staff at the end of each day.
Britain is preparing to give up to two million vaccinations next weekCredit: PA:Press Association
A source said: “There will be enough Covid vaccines in the country next week to give around a million people two doses each.
“Even more will arrive before the end of the year. It is down to the NHS to start getting needles into arms as quickly as possible.”
Two in three Brits are now happy to shop in store, a Centre for Retail Research study showed.
The centre’s Prof Joshua Bamfield said: “People will spend as they want to end a miserable year in a memorable way.
“The determination to have a good Christmas can outweigh Covid concerns and dented consumer confidence.”
Pubs compliant with Covid rules are expecting a busy weekendCredit: SWNS:South West News Service
Helen Dickinson, boss of the British Retail Consortium, added: “Retailers are offering discounts, extending opening hours and looking at other ways to create an enjoyable shopping experience.
“Everyone can shop in the knowledge that every purchase we make is a retailer helped, a job protected and a local community supported.”
Experts say the return to high streets will be helped by fatigue at purchasing over the net.
Market research firm Ipsos found shoppers buying online have become “stressed” and are no longer enjoying the experience.
Ipsos’s Tim Denison added: “Even three in ten of the young people we assume do everything online prefer the in-store experience.”
Britain’s economy is ready to start thriving againCredit: Wales News Service
Today also marks Small Business Saturday. Last year’s event saw a record 18million people spend £800million at local cafes, pet shops, toy stores and gift shops.
The call to “shop and eat small” is more vital than ever this year.
Almost half of independent retailers say pre-Christmas takings will decide if they survive.
Yesterday the UK’s chief medical officers wrote to NHS staff warning of an “especially hard winter” and praised them for their “magnificent” work.
Britain is putting the logistics in place for a mass vaccine programmeCredit: Reuters
They said vaccines mean Brits can look to 2021 with “greater optimism” but they are only likely to have a “marginal impact” this year.
They added: “Deploying vaccines safely, rapidly and in a sequence which is most likely to reduce mortality and morbidity is going to be a very considerable logistical exercise for all of us.”
Meanwhile shops gutted by the pandemic will soon be transformed into vaccine centres.
The NHS has rented a large unit at Westfield Stratford City, East London, for use as a plasma donation centre and is eyeing up 700 shuttered shops nationwide.
Retail staff who recently lost jobs are being invited to apply for roles administering the vaccines.
Kyle Monk, of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Setting up vaccine centres in empty units will help bring much-needed footfall to local high streets.
“Retailers have spent hundreds of millions on making retail Covid- secure — but this initiative could give shopping locations an active role in ending this pandemic once and for all.”
The Pfizer vaccine, which must be kept at -80C, will require deep-freezes with high-power usage.
And sources said shopping centres will allow the NHS to install and run this equipment without the risk of blowing fuses, unlike ageing health centres.
The NHS is looking for an initial 46 locations but that number will reach 700 by early next year.
Big sales will tempt Brits to the shops this weekendCredit: Getty – Contributor
Shops may be provided free of cost by landlords, with the NHS just paying business rates.
Other leisure venues, sports centres, museums and sports arenas are also being considered.
Meanwhile the NHS has launched job ads for thousands of £11.20-an-hour Covid “vaccinators”.
The ads read: “Your NHS needs you. We are looking for staff to join us to help deliver Covid-19 vaccine! Play your part in the vaccination programme.”
Experience in giving injections is “desirable” but not “essential”.
NHS England is due to give more details on its vaccine “Hospital Hubs” shortly.
A spokesman added: “This will be a marathon over the coming months, not a sprint.
“We will keep expanding the programme as we get more vaccines.”
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