WATCH: Huge queue as Ikea reopens near M6 as lockdown eased
Hundreds of people queued from daybreak outside Ikea near the M6 as the store reopened for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak.
A huge queue of people snaked away from the entrance to the store off Junction 9 at Wednesbury this morning.
Some people had been there since 5.45am ahead of the popular home furnishing store's opening at 10am.
It proved a warm wait for some who sat down as temperatures rose from 19C (66F) to 24C (75F) today.
Customers started to queue outside the store at 6am. While, cars were still queueing to access the Ikea car park across the Junction Nine Retail Park shortly before 11am.
Karl Jones, from Wednesbury, was at Ikea to buy furniture for his baby's nursery.
He said: "My partner is pregnant, she is due on June 25, so we needed to get some stuff for the nursery. We are after some wardrobes and stuff for the baby.
"I started queuing at 7am, it's been a long wait – it's been hell. I expected Ikea to be really busy, but not like this – this is crazy.
"We haven't been out much due to the baby, this is kind of the first big trip out. I'm just going straight in there, grabbing what we need and coming straight out. I'm not looking to spend time there, my partner normally likes a good browse of Ikea but she's not getting that today."
Gemma Jones, from Newport, in Shropshire, said: "I'm here to get stuff for two new bedrooms and a bathroom. We need wardrobes, desks and cushions. We got here at about 8am.
"I've been out for the usual food shopping but have been working from home – this is the first kind of longer journey out. It feels a bit like normality – the drive on the motorway was a bit busier, so it's like things are getting back to normal."
Nurse Michelle Simms, from Tividale, finished her shift at Birmingham Children's Hospital at 8am and was in the queue at Ikea for 8.30am.
She said: "I have got a new bed at home for my son which was recently delivered, so it needs a mattress and we want a chair to go with it.
"I came here straight from work, I am a nurse at Birmingham Children's Hospital – I finished my shift at 8am and got here at around 8.30am. I just wanted to get my son's bed sorted – but I was not expecting the queue to be like this at all, I said to my partner hopefully I'll be one of the first in."
Donna Wilkes, from Cannock, said: "I have been doing redecorating at home since we went into lockdown so we just wanted to get some bits for the house really. This is the first big trip out and I can't believe how busy it is."
Joe Lynam, from Birmingham, said: "We have been stuck in the house for 12 weeks and the teenager wants to do her room up now. We want some dressers, mirrors, anything for the bedroom really."
Daniel Kay, from Darlaston, made the trip to Ikea with his girlfriend Sophie. He added: "We have just been able to move into our new house since the measures eased. We had started to get some stuff for the house before lockdown, but it all came to a stop and moving dates were pushed back.
"I have not seen a queue like it before, but at least it isn't raining and we are waiting in the warm weather."
The store had been among those to close alongside the majority of retailers after the lockdown started on March 23.
Today marked a new phase of the lockdown with many measures eased further across England.
Some primary schools were reopening after 10 weeks but a number of schools will stay shut.
Other non-essential retailers including clothes stores were due to reopen on June 15 pending government confirmation.
High street giant Primark was among those to confirm its intention to reopen its shops within a fortnight.
Primark owner Associated British Foods (ABF) has said it is working to reopen all its 153 stores in England on June 15, after the Government gave non-essential retailers the go-ahead to welcome customers again.
It said that it expects to have reopened 281 of its stores by that date, having already reopened 112 of its sites across mainland Europe.
The retailer said it is awaiting further guidance regarding stores in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales but anticipates openings in “late June”.
Primark has shops in Wolverhampton, Walsall, Merry Hill, West Bromwich, Stafford and its flagship store in Birmingham city centre.
In a statement, the company said: “As European governments have begun to ease restrictions on clothing retailing we have been able to reopen stores.
“Safety has been our highest priority in our detailed preparations to welcome our customers and employees back to stores. We are following government safety advice in all markets.
“Importantly, we will apply the valuable experience gained from more than 100 stores which are already open as we open the remainder of our estate, including stores across the UK.
“Social distancing protocols, hand sanitiser stations, perspex screens at tills and additional cleaning of high frequency touch points in the store are among the measures we are implementing.”
The retailer said trading has been “reassuring and encouraging” in its recently reopened stores, with queues outside most sites.