It appears furniture shoppers (and Swedish meatball-lovers) across the world are eager to get back to their local IKEA stores as they begin to reopen after closing in March due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Last week, several of the Swedish furniture chain’s locations in England and Ireland reopened to the public — and photos of the first day back show around 1,000 eager shoppers waiting in massive lines to get into the stores.
Twitter user Jamie North, who visited an IKEA location in Warrington, England, when it opened tweeted that he was told there would be a 30-minute wait to get into the parking lot, and then a two-hour wait from there to enter the store.
Aerial photos of the Warrington store show a socially distanced line of people snaking around the parking lot. Signs throughout the lot ask shoppers to stay “2 meters apart at all times” — about 6 feet.
Christopher Furlong/Getty IKEA
PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty IKEA in Warrington, England
IKEA in Milton Keynes, England
“Apparently about 1000 people waiting,” North tweeted, joking, “Any entrepreneurs out there could easily make a lot of money selling bottles of water in this queue.” Later, he shared that he had waited about an hour and a half in the line, but once inside it “was very empty.”
Photos also show signs that read, “We are limiting the number of customers in our store. This is to ensure the health and safety of our customers and co-workers. We appreciate your continued support.”
Christopher Furlong/Getty IKEA in Warrington, England
Catherine Ivill/Getty IKEA in Milton Keynes, England
Currently, IKEA stores have reopened in numerous countries including Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, England, Germany, Italy, and Spain. A full list of all the stores that have reopened — and when the others plan to do so — is available on the website of the Ingka Group, IKEA's strategy partner.
Alex Pantling/Getty IKEA in London, England
According to the IKEA website, a small number of stores in the U.S. began to reopen on June 3. They suggest customers check their local store for details on its reopening date.
They also indicate that the IKEA experience may look a little different than shoppers are used to for the time being in order to keep everyone safe and help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
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For example, there will be decals on the floor to ensure social distancing, hand sanitizer stations will be set up throughout the store, there will be plexiglass screens around cash registers and customer service points, the restaurant will be take-out only and the children’s play area will be closed.
“Please play your part by listening to local government guidelines, respecting hygiene rules and face-covering guidance, maintaining social distancing and staying home if you feel unwell or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms,” the company writes on their website, recommending shoppers plan their purchases in advance or wait to shop if there is no urgent need.
U.S. IKEA locations will also be offering shopping hours for seniors and higher-risk customers on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 am to 10 am.