HUNDREDS of shoppers queued outside Penneys in the capital this morning, forcing the popular shop to open at 8.45am.
One female shopper had queued overnight to get into the flagship store on Mary Street, Dublin.
And a queue stretched around the block at Mary Street and O’Connell Street this morning and this afternoon.
Gardai gave permission for the Mary Street shop to open early due to the sheer number of people queuing on the street.
Very few shoppers wore face coverings and a small number of staff wore masks, despite chief medical officer Tony Holohan’s advice to wear masks or face coverings in shops and on public transport.
Nadine Sherry and daughter Brooke, 8, along with other family members, emerged from Penneys on Mary Street at around 10am, half an hour before the store was actually due to open, with several full bags.
“I needed a lot of things,” Ms Sherry, from Dublin city centre said. “I got PJs, new bed clothes but it was more about the coming in today after lockdown than the actual shopping.
“It was about getting back to normal.”
Brooke echoed her mother’s feelings, adding: “I missed Penneys.”
From around 8am, gardai were manning the streets outside the flagship store and some shoppers admitted they had come to the city very early, expecting a large number to attend.
Kristina White, 20, from Crumlin, Dublin, said: “I missed Penneys. I got here at 8.30am. It’s different to how it usually is, there’s more space but it was crazy busy.
“It was a great experience to be back though. I got some bits for the holidays, I’m going away next year. I had fun, it was brilliant.”
Larry Armstrong, 58, from the Liberties in Dublin, didn’t attend the Mary Street store to shop but rather for a practical joke on his wife, Maria.
“We’re celebrating our wedding anniversary today,” Mr Armstrong, who works at a taxi company catering for children with disabilities, said.
“I know she wanted to be here today but she isn’t, so I just went in and took pictures to tease her. It was crazy busy in there.”
Sophie Dromgoole, Robyn Gavin, and Clodagh Cummins, all 17, from Beaumont, Dublin, had all come out to make the most of their first day back at the store for almost three months.
The friends were all delighted with their shopping, including new clothing.
“We missed Penneys so much,” Sophie said. “It was so important for us to get out today. It wasn’t the same not being able to come in and shop, so we are happy Penneys is back.
“We just wanted new clothes so badly.”
Management at the city centre stores were expecting a large amount of interest today and workers looked happy to be back in their jobs.
Shoppers said they didn’t have to queue long outside or inside but as the day progressed the queue looked extremely lengthy outside O’Connell Street and a store worker was informing people of what to expect indoors.
He was telling customers to expect to be offered sanitiser when they entered but there would be no toilets open.
Customers are unable to try on clothes in changing rooms and there are no beauty treatments but there is extra security, including staff monitoring social distancing inside the stores and hand sanitiser available as soon as shoppers step inside.
Tills are spaced out and there is a perspex screen dividing till operators from customers.
The atmosphere of the opening of Penneys was completely different to the opening of Brown Thomas and Arnotts earlier this week.
There were much larger queues and young people were clearly out and about trying to move beyond Covid-19.
However some were still visibly concerned about the virus and donned face coverings, including one young man, who teamed a stylish black mask with a black jogging suit, while his friend went without.
Nadine Dennis, 20 and son CJ, 2, also got up early to pay a visit to the Mary Street store. “I couldn’t get some of the things I needed like bed clothes online,” Ms Dennis, from Kilbarrack, north Dublin, said.
“I went in at 8.30am to beat the queues, I just knew it would be really busy. And I was right.
“One woman was queueing from 3am with a child. It was a great atmosphere in the queue, we were all having the craic.
“It’s fantastic to see things are going back to normal and coming to shop.”