Thousands of people spent hours queuing in IKEA car parks across England and Northern Ireland on Monday (1 June), as the outside homeware giant reopened 19 of its stores.
The socially-distanced queues began early, with some customers arriving at 5.30am in the hopes of being among the first to enter the stores after weeks of closure due to coronavirus lockdown.
What are the social distancing measures in place?
The reopening of some IKEA stores came with the introduction of new safety measures.
The furniture shop currently has limits on the number of customers allowed to enter at any one time.
Once inside, customers will then be guided around the one-way system by social distancing ‘wardens’ patrolling the stores and the surrounding areas to ensure shoppers remain two metres apart.
In-store restaurants and play areas will remain closed, to prevent further contact between shoppers and staff.
However, customers craving IKEA’s famous meatballs can buy them in-store and cook them at home.
Similar to supermarket stores such as Tesco, IKEA will provide hand sanitiser for customers and staff, as well as ensuring shared items and areas such as trolleys, touchscreens and bathrooms, will frequently be deep cleaned.
The only payment methods that will be accepted in stores are contactless ones, such as the use of contactless cards or devices such as Apple pay.
IKEA’s click and collect facilities are also set to reopen, depending on which UK region the stores are in, and as part of a staggered approach and in accordance with the government’s advice.
What was the response online?
Many would-be shoppers took to social media to post photos of the lengthy, winding queues, after giving up their place following several hours of queueing.
One user from Leeds tweeted, “If you’re considering going to IKEA in Birstall today – don’t bother unless you want to queue for 6+ hours” before adding a video of the situation along with the warning, “Ikea in Leeds don’t bother”.
Another user posted images of queues in Wembley, asking, “The queue for IKEA Wembley today?! I only wanted to get a desk to finish my exams on. What on Earth do this many people need?!?!?! #IKEA”
Responding to the news of the queues, one user questioned the need to go to IKEA saying, “What could you possibly need so much from Ikea that you’d queue for 4 hours?!”
While another user offered advice to those unhappy with the queues, stating, “People complaining about the queues for IKEA yesterday - there's a really simple answer to that - stay at home.”
Which stores have reopened?
The 19 IKEA UK stores which reopened are as follows:
CroydonGreenwichLakesideWembleyTottenhamNorwich collection pointBirminghamNottinghamBelfastManchesterWarringtonGatesheadLeedsSheffieldMilton KeynesReadingSouthamptonBristolExeter