Police forces across the West Country are cancelling all leave and calling up reserve officers after unprecedented rioting broke out across much of Dorset as shoppers reacted angrily to news that shops would be closed for up to 2 hours on Christmas Day. "What are we going to do now we can't buy food?" was a typical reaction, alongside "I have bought 15 loaves over the past two days but what if I need more?".
Dorset Police Commissioner, Mather Force Bewithyew, expressed some sympathy for shoppers whilst recognising that hard-pressed shop owners deserved a lunch break on "the great day". "I can understand both sides", he said, "of course retail operators will want to spend time with their families, but it's very unfair on shoppers who could hardly have anticipated that they would be cut off from vital supplies of food and other essentials for up to 120 minutes".
Rumours of the closures were also said to be the cause of queues of up to 500 yards at petrol stations and coffee shops throughout the region, where owners reported panic buying on a scale not seen since the road haulage strike of 1886. Ted Octane owner of the independent "Gas 'n Guzzles Garage" a one stop fuel and alcohol outlet just outside Weymouth told local BBC reporter Myvanwy Grydd-Locke, that the public has "gone mad" and that sales of Beaminster IPA were "the best since we closed for 10 minutes this time last year, despite the fact we are closing for only 25 minutes plus toilet breaks on the 25th December".
West Country Retailers Association Chair, Sir Lancelot Rotarian was unavailable for comment.
Just some of the scenes of panic today: ABOVE: Petrol supplies have come under extreme pressure as a result of the irresponsible two hour closure; BELOW local retailers have been the object of much criticism as "almost without warning" they took the outrageous decision to close for lunch on Christmas day.