Atria Watford has confirmed why its alarm went off earlier today.

People were seen gathering outside several shops, including M&S and Primark, at around 9.30am.

The shopping centre has told the Watford Observer that the alarm was part of a pre-planned fire safety exercise.

A spokesperson said: “The safety of our visitors and staff is extremely important to us and exercises like these are just one of the ways we review our health and safety procedures to ensure they are as robust as possible.”

Some residents queried what was happening on social media, with one questioning whether people were “picketing” outside the shops.

They pointed to “customers queueing right outside the main doors”, before someone else wrote: “No that was their assembly point. But it was only one half of Atria, the other was open by Boots and WHS.”

In separate news, the shopping centre confirmed this week that a new kitchen supply store, ProCook, is opening on Thursday, November 23.

Zara also recently revealed it will move into a new “double-size” atria unit in 2024.