THE Rock Shopping Centre is open for business.

People flocked to the Bury shopping centre on Monday as lockdown restrictions were lifted allowing non-essential shops to open.

Debenhams and Primark proved hugely popular -  and many took advantage of the fine spring weather to enjoy food and drinks at restaurants and cafes which had outdoor seating.

Town centre barbers were busy throughout the day with queues outside with people desperate for a haircut.

There was a 45 per cent increase in footfall compared to the same day in 2019 and today footfall was also higher.

The Rock Shopping Centre director Arnold Wilcox-Wood said: "There were queues outside Primark and Debenhams from 8am and Monday exceeded our expectations."

Debenhams is running an 'everything must go' sale after fashion retailer Boohoo bought the brand and website, but stores are set to close next month for good.

He said that trade was still going strong on Tuesday and reassured visitors that precautions had been taken to keep them safe.

Mr Wilcox-Wood said the shopping centre had been preparing for the big reopening after lockdown for the past three months and had put in systems and processes to keep people safe, including new signage, one way systems and extra cleaning in around the centre.

"I am quite confident we have done everything possible and more by going the extra mile," said Mr Wilcox-Wood.

Although the majority of units were open, The Rock is set to lose its flagship store Debenhams, which will be going online only after its clearance sale is over.

Topshop and Dorothy Perkins remained closed, with the latter store displaying a poignant message thanking its customers and urging them to support their local High Street.

Mr Wilcox-Wood said there was still a place for the High Street with The Rock set to reposition itself, including bringing in more entertainment.

"Shopping online is a solitary experience, people enjoy coming out for refreshments socialising, seeing and touching things and getting advice from assistants."

Pictures by Danny Crompton