Lockdown? What lockdown? There was precious little evidence of Stormont's contentious new circuit breaker in some areas of Belfast on Friday morning.
This was the first day of 14 imposed by the Executive on non-essential retail.
To the naked eye, however, everything was essential and anything went.
At first glance, this was just like any other Friday morning in the run-up to Christmas - full car parks, heavy traffic, queues and well-populated stores.
The only tangible evidence of further Covid-19 restrictions were the shuttered shops in Belfast city centre owned by disgruntled and angry businesspeople who were told that their work - hairdressing, beauty therapy, sit-down cafes, specialist toy and book shops, jewellery etc - would be joining the hospitality industry under the 'non-essential' umbrella term.
Unlike the city's outlying retail parks, however, the Royal Avenue/Donegall Place thoroughfare was arguably the quietest it has been with less than four weeks remaining until Christmas.
Yet, while the people who own or rent those empty premises sit at home trying to make the numbers somehow add up, frustrated at being mothballed during the most lucrative time of the year and fretting over their future, others are reaping the rewards of a rollicking trade.
Ironically, the retailer with a locked-down premises full of new clothing or books, for example, can buy whatever he or she wants to wear or read in the likes of M&S, Tesco or B&M.
This will boost the already huge profits of the multinationals - the so-called heroes of the first lockdown in March - while at the same time hammering a further nail into the coffins of locally owned and independent businesses.
If there was one glimmer of optimism from Friday's evidence, it was that a considerable number of people still want to hit the high street rather than tap on computer keyboards for their festive purchases.
Even Royal Avenue perked up after an eerie, quiet start.
But how gutting must it be for those temporarily redundant providers to see, as I did on Friday, shopping baskets full of non-essential - there is that phrase again - items such as lampshades, photo frames, knitting wool, cushions, fake flowers, extravagant lamps, massive wall pictures, door stoppers, floor rugs and hair straighteners?
The Department of Health says that "to remain open, stores must be wholly or mainly one of the essential types of retail business".
Good luck in nailing down what means.
Arriving shortly before 10am at The Range, which is the anchor tenant of east Belfast's Connswater Shopping Centre, there were few car parking spaces left but, fortunately, no queues to get into the sizeable cornerstone store, unlike during the first lockdown back in March, when people were waiting for up to half an hour to gain entry.
Inside, shoppers were filling their baskets and trolleys with a variety of goods, including toys, cards, Christmas decorations, paint, wool, pillows, and cushions, from the retailer, which stocks a vast array of home and garden products, items for pets and even houses an Iceland frozen foods concession.
There was Christmas music playing in the background, making it all very seasonal.
As one woman said to me: "Isn't it great being able to do your shopping without the crowds?
"I was in the city centre last night and it was mobbed."
With no apparent waning of appetites for shopping, the retailers that have been allowed to stay open seem set to reap the benefit of a pre-Christmas boom over the coming fortnight.
At both Home Bargains and B&M, which are located nearby, it was much, much busier, with plenty of toys being bought at the former and lots of paint at the latter.
There were fairly deep queues at the tills, almost all of which were manned in anticipation of a mid-morning rush.
Halfords, the motoring and cycling retailer, was empty just before 11am, with staff easily outnumbering potential customers eyeing up bicycles, helmets and baby seats.
Over at Dunnes in Belfast city centre, the clothing area was cordoned off, in keeping with its counterpart stores south of the border. Customers were informed that if there was an item they required, they could get it through click and collect.
Meanwhile, at furniture giant Ikea's superstore at Belfast's Holywood Exchange, the massive car park had plenty of empty spaces around 1pm.
"We're not as busy as we would normally be on a Friday," a security guard told me as some happy customers trundled by with trolleys bearing the weight of their newly purchased flat-pack furniture.
Next door at the drive-through Burger King, however, cars were backed up for several hundred yards.
It seems some things are more essential than others.