PINTS were pouring, shops swarming and salons swamped as Inverclyde businesses opened their doors again for the first time in four months.

After being closed since Christmas Eve, local shops, pubs, gyms and salons welcomed back customers on Monday as lockdown restrictions were eased.

Port Glasgow's retail park was relatively quiet as shoppers instead moved to support businesses in Greenock town centre and Gourock.

Shoppers headed to Primark for its 8am opening, with 18-year-olds Taylor Kennedy, Leah McEleny and Niamh Bradshaw, all pictured, three of the first through the door.

Greenock pensioner Betty Gatens was another early bird as she waited on her manicurist, Alin Liu of Lily's Nails, to reopen her stall.

Betty told the Tele: "I've been waiting four months to get back and was standing here first thing waiting on them.

"It's brilliant to see people out and about again, it's the busiest I've seen the town centre in many years."

Also excited to get back to the shops and visit the salon were colleagues Millie McFarlane and Abbie Galbraith, both pictured, who took annual leave for the occasion.

Bargain hunters descended on Ardgowan Hospice shops with Oak Mall branch manager Viktoria Wylie delighted to welcome people back.

She said: "It's been a long time in coming, but we're really pleased to see our customers again."

Also in the Oak Mall, fashion retailer Unique opened their doors - from a brand new unit in the centre of the town.

Shop assistant Geraldine Shambach said: "We'll hopefully be busier now we're a bit further into the mall. We had people rush in as soon as we opened at 11am."

Restaurants across Inverclyde also reopened yesterday and can now serve food and soft drinks indoors until 8pm, while alcohol can be consumed outdoors until 10pm.

Two of the first to enjoy a long-awaited pint were pals George Kane and Jim Hendry, who visited their local Nicolson's to enjoy its outdoor beer garden.

Jim told the Tele: "It could've been the Beast from the East and I've still have been here!"

George added: "We wouldn't normally be sitting in the pub at 11am, but it's a nice gesture and we wanted to support the guys after what's been a hard few months."

On hand to welcome George and Jim back to the Bruce Street bar and restaurant was CEO of group hospitality Judy Arbuckle and general manager Gary McDowell.

Judy said: "We're so glad to see our staff - both old and new - back.

"We've got a new system now so that staff can log orders digitally, making the whole operation much easier. There's a real excitement about it all. By the weekend we'll have forgotten we were ever closed."

Also opening its doors for the first time in months was The Exchange, with manageress Amy Beckett who said they have been swamped with bookings for their restaurant and outdoor courtyard.

She said: "Like everyone else, we've been counting down the days.

"We've been inundated with enquiries and we're so grateful people are coming back in such numbers to support us."

Meanwhile, Gourock was also a hub of activity.

Coleen Hill, owner of Treasured at Cardwell Bay staged a stunning balloon display to welcome customers back.

She said: "We've had a brilliant start to the day.

"We really feel like such a big part of the community, and people seem determined to use local traders more now than ever before."

Kempock Street was bustling too, with shoppers cueing to support local gift shops, florists and cafés.

Eager to go were business partners Heather McCulloch and Nick Summers, who own the Pirate and Bluebelle Gallery.

Nick added: "We had a few regular faces pop by as soon as we opened. It's refreshing to see Kempock Street so busy again."

Keen gym-goers were able to work up a sweat indoors for the first time in months, with fitness facilities across Inverclyde reopening their doors.

Welcoming fitness fanatics back to the brand-new 'Strength Shed' at Inverclyde Leisure's Greenock Sports Centre was facility manager Bobby McVitie, centre manager Karen Currie and fitness advisor Tina Martinez.

Bobby said: "We've rebranded this entire gym and it's looking great.

"We also had a great turnout at one minute past midnight at the Waterfront which just proves how much people are happy to be moving out of lockdown and getting back to some sort of normality."