Ikea has confirmed that it will reopen its Dublin stores on Monday in Ballymun and Carrickmines, subject to the approval for the first phase of lifting lockdown restrictions. 

The store said that will be taking a number of measures to ensure the health and safety of its customers and staff.

The measures include limiting the number of customers in-store at any one time, allowing two members maximum per group as well as cashless payment only.

Other plans by Ikea include plexiglass screens at checkouts, service points and planning areas, as well as social distancing wardens to ensure that measures are being followed. 

Some retailers are bracing themselves for high volumes of customers and a very different way of doing business as they prepare to reopen from Monday. 

Garden centres, hardwares, homeware stores and opticians are among the first in the sector to open their doors as part of the the first phase of the governments roadmap to reopen the economy. 

Retail Ireland says they are hopeful that if this can be done safely, the timeline for reopening the entire sector could be brought forward. 

An estimated 1,500 retailers will reopen on 18 May but some are concerned about managing the volume of customers due to pent up demand for their products.

Jonathan Stanley, Managing Director of Home Store + More, which has 22 outlets nationwide, said he is worried that too many people will turn up to stores next week. 

He appealed to customers to come to shops at quieter times and said that both retailers and shoppers have a responsibility to ensure the first wave of reopening goes well so that others that are due to follow on 8 June can also open their doors. 

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He said it cost about €10,000 per store to ensure social distancing and the protection of staff and customers with measures like signage, hand sanitisers and perspex screens being installed. 

Garden centres, homewear and hardware stores and those selling electrical, IT and office supplies are all due to reopen on Monday.

Bike, motor and phone repair services, farmers markets and opticians are also on the official government list of the first phase of retailers to reopen on 18 May. 

And even the simple task of picking out a pair of glasses is going to look different.

Barry Lawler, an Optometrist with surgeries in Kildare and Meath said that visit the optician is going to be a very different experience.

Customers will no longer be able to browse and try on glasses at their leisure. They will have to be accompanied by a staff member who offers them a selection frames and then ensures that each one in cleaned and sanitised before it is returned to the display. 

For eye tests customers will have to come alone, wear their own mask or one provided by the optician who will also be wearing PPE, and the test they are taking will also be different. 

In some cases drops will be administered to patients to dilate their pupils and speed up the examination process but they will then be unable to drive until the affects of the drops have cleared.

Phone consultations and appointment only visits will also be a part of the new reality.  

Retail Excellence Ireland said even if there are high volume of customers next week overall the sector is facing subdued demand due to social distancing measures and their expectation of financial prudence on the part of consumers.

It called on the Government to support the sector with a rent grant and and a waiver of rates for 22 months.  

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