THOUSANDS of shoppers flocked to Bicester Village today in the hope to grab themselves a designer bargain for the first time this year.

The outlet, which has been closed since Christmas Eve, welcomed customers back with a host of safety protocols in place to prevent the spread of Covid.

LIVE: Non-essential retail, gyms and pubs in Oxford to reopen

Shoppers were happy to be out browsing luxury items again, but some were disappointed with the digital queuing system which meant they had to wait hours to get into the site's flagship stores.

Bicester Advertiser:

Matt and Grace travelled an hour and a half from Essex to return a product.

Grace said: "We joined the queue for Prada which originally said we'd get in at half four. Now we've been moved to half 11, but they still haven't texted me so we're still waiting.

"We got here just before 10am and the main shop we want to go to is Prada because we need to exchange something. They said we have 14 days from the opening to exchange it, so we had no choice but to come."

Matt added: "Gucci was ridiculous. We’re standing in the queue and you’ve got 20 people that weren’t there when you turned up that are now at the front of the queue. Is it worth the bargain? I don't know."

The system works by people scanning a QR code at a shop to digitally reserve their place in the queue. They can then walk around the village while they move forward and can check their position and waiting time at any point from their phone.

ALSO READ: Landlord Hammerson confirms talks over sale of Bicester Village

They receive a text alert when it is time to return to the shop and have 10 minutes to make their way back.

Bicester Advertiser: Marshals held signs encouraging people to walk on the leftMarshals held signs encouraging people to walk on the left

A group of women from the Midlands said they had only been to one shop on their list by 11am, despite having arrived at 8am when Bicester Village opened.

They said the problem was that their were queues to scan the code needed to get in the digital queue in the first place.

A shop assistant at Burberry told customers to 'come back later' as there were 880 people in its digital queue.

Some shoppers enjoyed their time and felt comfortable being at the outlet.

Donna Story, from West Wycombe said: "I’ve had a great day and managed to go to all of the stores I wanted to. The staff have been really helpful. Queuing hasn’t quite worked, I think a lot of people are going away disappointed but what do you expect - they went out during Covid."

ALSO READ: Queues outside Primark and John Lewis as shops reopen

Claire and Ann from Nottingham said they were not expecting so many people to be shopping on the first day that restrictions were eased.

Bicester Advertiser: Bicester Village has reopened

Claire said: "We thought that we might be the only people here today, but clearly we’re not. Other people had the same idea which surprised us. We’re having a lovely day and it’s very well organised."

Bicester Village's shopping protocols include temperature checks upon entry, hand sanitiser stations dotted around the site, social distancing markers and marshals encouraging people to walk on the left. There is also a reduced capacity in place by 50 per cent and face coverings must be worn at all times in boutiques.

Bicester Advertiser: Bicester Village has reopened

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For news updates straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on or 01865 425 445.