Traffic chaos as hundreds queue to get into newly-opened IKEA in Milton Keynes
Hundreds of eager shoppers are queuing today to get into IKEA - some of them since 5.30am.
LATEST: In pictures: Shoppers queue as IKEA re-opens in Milton KeynesAlready, within two of reopening its doors, IKEA have been forced to close the car park because it is jammed with cars.
Traffic on Bletcham Way is backed up, with long delays at the traffic lights.
The queue is snaking right around the car park, though IKEA staff are making sure everybody is two metres apart.
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Currently a system is in place to allow one car into the car park as another one leaves. But delays are up to two hours, say witnesses.
IKEA was one of the first major stores to close its door on March 20, the day before official lockdown began.
It has been operating an online delivery service during lockdown, but delays in delivery have been lengthy.
One shopper in the queue said today: "I couldn't believe my eyes when I arrived. I thought I was early but there was already a massive queue here.
"A couple of people had been here since 5.30am. It's madness really but everything has been orderly so far. The traffic around the area is a nightmare though.
"It's going to be interesting to see how they are going to keep people safely apart as there's going to be thousands going through the doors by the end of the day.
"We've been redecorating during lockdown, but we're just missing some finishing touches. I've been waiting for this day for a long time.
"Everything seems to have gone up in price online and you can't beat Ikea for a good bargain."
Another shopper said: "I brought along a camping chair as I thought everybody would be flocking here today.
"I saw what other stores and fast food places have been like and knew it would be chaos.
"But it's been orderly chaos so far, I'm not sure if that's all going to change once I get inside.
"It's taken well over an hour to get near the front of the queue. I just want to get in and out now - but not before I've bought some meatballs."
Customers have now been asked to shop alone, use hand sanitisers dotted around the store and be prepared with ready-made lists and their own bags.
Play areas and restaurants will also remain shut, but shoppers can still get their hands on the store’s famous meatballs, which are available in food courts to take home.
Peter Jelkeby, Ikea's UK and Ireland chief executive, said: "We’re looking forward to warmly welcoming customers and co-workers back into our stores from 1st June.
"Their health and safety remains our top priority, and that’s why we’ve put in place extensive measures to ensure the safety and comfort of customers and co-workers.
"While the experience might be a little different to before – it’s the same IKEA, with the vision to 'create a better everyday life for the many people', and the ambition to inspire people through our brilliant affordable range and home furnishing advice.
"Throughout lockdown, we’ve had the unique privilege of being a part of people’s everyday lives at home, and we’re committed to continuing doing whatever we can to support our customers and co-workers on this next part of the journey we take together."