- Extraordinary scenes played out outside JD Sports in Oxford Street, London, as youths raced to the queues
- Shoppers were seen running full pelt to join the lines ahead of 9am opening of huge trainers store
- Similar lines were seen in Birmingham and Cornwall at bargain retailer Primark as it flung open doorsDesperate shoppers were seen fighting to join queues for limited edition trainers and bargain clothes in popular stores as they were allowed to open for the first time this year.
Extraordinary scenes played out outside JD Sports in Oxford Street, London, as trainers enthusiasts ran to get to the end of the line to try and get inside earlier.
Youths and adults jostled with each other to get their places ahead of the doors being flung open at 9am in an effort to get their hands on rare Air Jordan 1s or Nike Dunks.
Police were also called to deal with a scrum of shoppers queuing outside Manchester Arndale shopping centre this morning as non-essential retailers reopened.
Officers had to help security in calming the crowd as they waited outside the main Market Street entrance as cried of 'Why are you pushing?' and 'Move back' rang out as social distancing measures were ignored.
And in Birmingham, West Mids, the world's biggest Primark in the city's High Street saw at least a hundred people queue up to grab bargains.
Keen shoppers arrived well in advance of this morning's special 7am reopening time at the huge store.
The retail giant has extended opening hours for the first initial week in an effort to recoup profits lost over the pandemic.
Footfall at all the UK's retail destinations had risen 116 per cent by 3pm on Monday compared to the same time a week ago, according to figures from Springboard.
Across all destinations footfall was still down 26 per cent compared to Monday April 15, 2019. It rose 410 per cent compared to Monday April 13, 2020 - the height of the first lockdown.
And Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said it was a 'big day' for reopening businesses, and that many were 'excited and desperate' to welcome customers back.
'It's a big day for the country and it's a big day for all of these businesses reopening their doors today,' she told Sky News.'They are very excited and desperate to welcome their customers back (with) the focus on safety.'
Ms Dickinson said that retailers were now used to preparing to reopen their doors, having experienced the process during previous lockdowns, but added that customers also had a 'part to play'.
'Because they've been through this process before... they would have been ready the last week or the week before, and are just keen and enthusiastic to welcome us back,' she said.
'Members of the public have a part to play in following the signage, the guidance that we get given queueing if we need to... and all of the safety features that are in place. We have a role too.'
Scores of youngsters started gathering outside Foot Locker on Oxford Street from 7am with the store forced to open earlier than it's initial scheduled time of 10am.Members of the public seen walking with their shopping on April 12, in London
Security had to be brought in after scuffles broke out with enthusiastic shoppers eager to get in.
One security guard who was standing by the store with a guard dog told MailOnline: 'We've had some scuffles and people banging on the windows of the store.
'It's mainly kids who are after a particular brand of trainers. But there is a lot of excitement that the shops have reopened. Hopefully the novelty of it will soon wear off.'
Transport for London said demand for Tube and bus travel from the start of service until 10am on Monday was up 18 per cent and 15 per cent respectively compared with the same period last week.
The number of passengers using Tube stations near shopping centres such as Oxford Street and Westfield Stratford City between 11am and noon was up 125 per cent.
Simeon Banks, 22 who had just purchased two pairs of Nike Jordan's on Oxford Street said: 'I collect and resell trainers. While I do it online I prefer going into shops to touch and feel them.
'I'm happy that the shops have opened because it's more fun buying trainers in person.'
Jessica Palmerston, 35 from Walthamstow, East London who arrived at Primark on Oxford Street soon after it opened for business told MailOnline: 'I have been waiting for Primark to reopen for the past three months.
'I hate shopping online, I love going into this shop because it's a real buzz when you see the latest fashions and people getting excited about clothes.'
She revealed that she had bought an assortment of socks, underwear and tee-shirts for herself and her children.
Ms Palmerston added: 'Pri-Mani is the best and it's wonderful to be able to return here. There's nothing like filling up your basket with lots of treats; we deserve it because we've suffered enough.'
Nala Bee, 25 arrived at the store with her friend Ryan C.
She said: 'We got up at 7am to get here before it gets too busy. I've really missed the shops not being open. I hate online shopping. I love going shopping, try things on and have a bit of fun. It's my therapy, it's what makes me happy.
Lesley Black, 47 who was accompanied by her daughter Demi, 20 said: 'Between us we've spent about £200 on underwear and pyjamas.
'It feels wonderful to be back in the shops and we're going to spend the whole day shopping. Both of us love spending a day at the shops and we've really missed it during the lockdown. Luckily, I've got some money saved so I now plan to spend it all.'
Primark appeared extremely popular in other parts of the country too, with shoppers queuing outside the branch in Truro, Cornwall, an hour ahead of its scheduled re-opening.
Cleaner Georgina Okie, 48, queued for 45 minutes to be one of the first to shop in Primark in Manchester city centre.
She said: 'I am so happy the shops are open. It feels like the first step back to normality. I was desperate to come and shop and buy some jeans. I felt really safe.'
Student Natasha Larkin, 17, queued to spend £15 on gym wear and shorts at Primark in Manchester. She said: 'It feels great to just walk into a shop and buy something. I have missed it so much. It gives you something to do. It feels a great day '.
Cleaner Mauro Silva, 28, also queued up to buy £5 slippers at Primark. He said: 'It's cold and I need them.
'I had finished work so it feels fantastic to just go into a shop again.'
Pubs and restaurants in London's West End enjoyed a lunch time rush, as customers made the most of the chance to sit and drink outdoors, despite the chilly weather.
Deirdre Peachey, 64 had travelled from Sevenoaks, Kent for a day out in the capital accompanied by her daughter Erin, 42 and her grandchildren Charlie, 6 and Eva 5.
Ms Peachey said that they had visited Hamleys to buy toys for the children while she bought material at the Liberty store on Regent Street, which was followed by lunch.
She added: 'It's a bit chilly sitting out here but it's wonderful to be able to shop again. I've been waiting for this day for a long time. I've felt quite safe being out and about and it's very reassuring to see people taking all the precautions required.
'I feel as if I've been locked up for the past year and it's just great to be able to go out and do normal things.'
Erin said: 'I love coming into Central London to shop or have a meal and have really missed it. I'm delighted that I've been able to do this today because it feels that life is slowly returning to normal.Facilities permitted to reopen in the latest easing of lockdown include pubs and restaurants who can serve outside, non-essential shops, indoor gyms and swimming pools, nail salons and hairdressers, outdoor amusements and zoos
'The kids have absolutely loved it. Charlie wanted a toy fish while Eva got a lot of other stuff. They're really happy to be on their holidays and have a day out at the shops.'
In Chinatown, customers queued for up to 45 minutes for a table. Dozens were arranged outside restaurants that line
the area's main walkway with customers braving the cold to wolf down an assortment of delicacies.
Si Ling, who works at the Four Seasons restaurant said: 'We've been very busy even though it's not really weather for sitting out. The past few months have been very hard because not only has business been bad but so has morale.
'Things are looking up again and it makes me really happy to see customers returning and enjoying our food.'
Many pubs had set up outdoor areas in the Soho area where customers enjoyed a pint or a drink outdoors.
Brian Fowler, 26 who was sipping a pint in a plastic glass beamed: 'It's a great feeling to be able to buy a pint in a pub and have a chat with my mate.
'I know the pubs are not fully open yet, because you can't drink inside, but it feels as if we are heading in the right direction.
'I'm not a big drinker but I've really missed the social aspect of going to the pub. The last few months have been very boring as I don't enjoy sitting in doors drinking. The weather's not great so it is a pity that we can't go inside and prop up the bar.'
It came against the backdrop of Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning the nation to 'behave responsibly' during the lockdown easing today.
The PM urged caution during the 'major step forward' as a scientist advising the Government warned the rules must be followed to minimise a possible rebound in case numbers.
'I'm sure it will be a huge relief for those business owners who have been closed for so long, and for everyone else it's a chance to get back to doing some of the things we love and have missed,' Mr Johnson said.
'I urge everyone to continue to behave responsibly and remember 'hands, face, space and fresh air' to suppress Covid as we push on with our vaccination programme.'
It will be the third in a series of easings since the third national lockdown was legally imposed in England on January 6.
The next significant date is May 17, when socialising indoors will be permitted under the 'rule of six' - if the Prime Minister judges that the vaccination programme is safely breaking the link between infections and deaths.
After three months of full national lockdown, the Government said on Sunday that a further seven people had died in the UK within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test. Another 1,730 lab-confirmed cases were also announced.
Around 61 per cent of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to official figures suggesting that more than 32 million people have received a jab. More than 14 per cent have had both doses.
Mr Johnson welcomed a 'record-breaking day' for second doses after figures reported on Sunday stated a rise of 475,230 jabs.
Roaring out of lockdown: Traffic levels are up on last week as bargain hunters flood to shopping centres and Ikea stores on first day of Covid rules easing
- RAC say Monday has been the busiest day of the entire year after lockdown
- Britons expected to make some 7 million shopping and leisure trips this week
- Road journeys in London at 8am on Monday took an average of 42% longer
By Dan Sales for MailOnline
Traffic levels rocketed today as lockdown restrictions were finally released to allow non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants and barbers to open.
Motoring experts said it was the busiest day of the year as drivers took advantage of coronavirus restrictions being eased. Traffic data from TomTom showed increases on last week.
Non-essential shops, as well as pubs and restaurants have been allowed to reopen as infection rate fall and vaccination numbers rise.
Stores including Ikea and shopping centres proved popular as may got behind the wheel for a day at the shops.
RAC Breakdown spokesman Simon Williams told MailOnline: 'Monday looks like being the busiest day of the year so far on the roads as drivers take advantage of the further easing of coronavirus restrictions.
'Our research shows 2.3m leisure trip were planned with many packing up their cars for a late Easter staycation while others are just keen to do some non-essential shopping, get a haircut, go to the gym or see some friends in a pub garden.
'Over the coming week we expect to see drivers make more than 7m leisure trips.'And whatever people's plans are, the car is almost certainly central to them with government statistics still showing a massive decline in public transport usage.
'If drivers have not been using their vehicles much in recent months, we encourage them to check their tyre pressures as well as their oil and coolant levels to reduce the chances of a breakdown before they head back onto the roads.'
Road journeys in London at 8am on Monday took an average of 42% longer compared with free-flow conditions, according to location technology firm TomTom.
That is up from 32% at that time on April 6, the first working day of last week.
Other cities to experience rises over the same period included Brighton (22% to 28%), Birmingham (22% to 27%), Bristol (25% to 33%), Manchester (27% to 37%) and Leeds (23% to 51%).
Stephanie Leonard, head of traffic innovation and policy at TomTom, commented: 'This morning's data shows a significant increase in traffic congestion on the roads, a sign that Covid-19 rules have eased across England.
'This could demonstrate that while we are slowly beginning to return back to normality with non-essential retail opening, driving still remains the chosen choice of transport as we continue to navigate through the pandemic.'
Indoor gyms, swimming pools, nail salons, outdoor visitor attractions and self-contained accommodation providers all welcomed customers back on Monday.
Train ticket retailer Trainline reported that bookings for travel this week are up 52% compared with last week, and 135% on the week beginning March 15.
The surge includes a rise in long-distance journeys.
Stations at beach destinations have seen some of the largest increases.
Popular locations include Blackpool; St Ives and Penzance, Cornwall; Clacton-on-Sea, Essex; and Brighton.
Journeys booked for peak weekday travel have also risen, suggesting more people are resuming their commute rather than working from home for the next few weeks and months.
The most popular city stations booked as a destination this week include London's Euston, King's Cross and Paddington stations, Manchester Piccadilly, Leeds, Birmingham New Street, Newcastle and York.
Meanwhile, a fault with the signalling system caused disruption to all routes in and out of London Liverpool Street.