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Perplexingly, a whole bunch of these people seemed to be doing it for the 'experience', as the Three store (and Orange, two doors down) had around four people waiting for the iPhone 5 to go on sale.
At the Three store, buyers got to sit down and wait in comfort inside. One of the sales reps told me they had stock to sell to people who hadn't reserved the phone, but that they expected to sell out on Friday.
Perhaps it was the incredibly long walk (472 feet) from the Apple Store to either of these other retailers that put those in the Regent Street queue off.