Large queues reported at hardware stores as shops reopen

Customers queueing outside Woodies Garden centre in Glasnevin Dublin. Picture: Leon Farrell/
By Steve Neville

Large queues have been reported on social media at hardware stores as the Covid-19 restrictions ease.

On Friday, it was announced that phase one of reopening Ireland’s society and economy could go ahead.

This means some shops and outdoor amenities are allowed open their doors from today.

At Blanchardstown shopping centre in Dublin, hundreds of people queued from 8am to go into hardware store Woodies and electrical store DID electrical.

Security personnel manned the queues, while staff wore gloves and protective shields.

Stores operated a one-way system for entering and exiting, while shoppers were told to use hand sanitiser before going in.

On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, reporter Angus Cox spoke to customers at Woodies in Bray where it was reported to be "getting very busy".

One customer praised the “main products” like paint being at the front of the store so most people would be able to “grab what they need and go fairly quick”.

Another questioned why hardware stores had shut down at all “as they had great procedures” before.

Woodies CEO Declan Ronayne told the station that by the end of this month, they will have spent close to half a million euro on protective equipment like face guards and perspex screens.

He said they expect to sell quite a lot of everything today.

“We don’t think we’re going to get many more customers than normal, but we think they’re going to spend a lot more.

“And we’ve seen that. Everyone’s got a trolly and a basket this morning. Not necessarily just popping in for one small thing.

“So we look forward to doing some good business.”

Addressing the store's u-turn on banning under-16s from the store, he said the decision had been made to "discourage the family outing to stores.”

Under-16s had been banned after staff were worried that social distancing would be harder to achieve if children are let in.

The decision was then reversed and the store said under-16s are “welcome in our stores when accompanied by an adult.”

Mr Ronayne said: “We were probably a little bit heavy-handed in how we did that.

“And we put our hands up and say the feedback says that’s probably the wrong approach to take.

“And we’ve reversed it and we move on.”

Elsewhere, car showrooms reopened with social distancing measures in place, as did motor and bicycle repair shops.

Brian Cooke, director general of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) said the size of dealerships relative to footfall lends itself to social distancing.

“Sanitisation and other measures have been put in place for both premises and vehicles, and should give customers reassurance.

“Increased opening will allow members to contribute to their local economies in terms of business activity and supporting employment.”

- additional reporting by Press Association