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No booze is bad news

Christmas spirit was in short supply when shoppers wishing to take advantage of ‘early bird’ store opening hours were unable to stock up on booze.

Customers at Bluewater’s Marks & Spencer store, which opened at midnight on Christmas Eve, reacted angrily when they discovered licensing laws prevented them from buying alcohol.

Dozens of shoppers had flocked to the store, one of 103 branches around the country which opened their doors early.

It was the first time that the High Street giant has opened stores so early the day before Christmas in a bid to lure last-minute shoppers.

The decision followed the Government’s refusal to relax Sunday trading laws and let large shops extend their opening times from six hours on December 23.

But shoppers at the Greenhithe store felt like drowning their sorrows when told bosses had not updated the food hall’s alcohol licence to enable them to buy their festive tipples.

One customer, Stephen Roberts, 44, from Gravesend, was not aware of the problem until he reached the till.

“There was another customer arguing with a member of staff who told her he could not sell her alcohol.

“He called over a supervisor who informed the woman that the store hadn’t sorted out its alcohol licence. I was then told I couldn’t buy the wine I wanted - and would have to try Asda instead.

“I didn’t come here for alcohol but saw a few bottles I fancied. If you’re wanting customers to shop at your store from midnight, surely you would have thought of your alcohol licence before you opened.”

Individual stores each have their own alcohol licence, issued by its local authority.

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