Many London furnishing and design stores reopen on Monday as lockdown restrictions lift on the sale of non-essential goods. But the shopping experience will be drastically changed.
Social distancing will be enforced. There will be one-way traffic, two-metre border lines on the floor, masked queue monitors and shop assistants, plus plastic screens.
You’ll be offered masks, gloves and loads of hand sanitiser. You can try out beds and sofas using disposable plastic or paper sheets.
Elsewhere, touching surfaces is discouraged, though assistants should be cleaning as you go.
Before you set out to shop it’s wise to do your browsing online first and book appointments where they are offered – it all helps to cut down on the dreaded queuing. And returned goods will go into “quarantine” for 72 hours.
Loos and cafés will be shut and at Harrods and Westfield, “advanced tech” will control footfall. Small shops must limit customer numbers, so large stores will benefit.
In the middle of last month, the Government added “homewares” to its list of essential retail and some big names – after seeking legal advice – snapped up the chance to reopen, with a slew of sales and offers to woo back buyers.
Those already trading, with rule changes, include Furniture Village, DFS, Ikea, Carpetright, Sofology and Heal’s.
Otherwise, a clutch of stores that did not interpret “homewares” as big-ticket items such as sofas, beds and carpets, will open on or after Monday June 15, in line with official guidance on non-essential services. The big department stores, including Harrods, reopen next week.
John Lewis will open on Monday in Kingston and Poole, with 11 more stores next Thursday, June 18, including Bluewater and Welwyn, all deep cleaned, restocked and with staff retrained.
Harrods will open Monday and will also have a large “outlet” store at Westfield, effectively replacing its in-store summer sale.
Watch out for bargains as accumulated stocks are offloaded.
Carpetright, with 30 London branches including the Croydon flagship, is doing “double discounts”.
SCP has discounts and clearance and the store is open with full consultations by appointment in Shoreditch.
Half-price sofas: DFS is having a huge sale on its sofas, with delivery and installation back in action
“Virtual” queuing, tested by Asda, lets customers wait in their cars. Parking is free at deep-cleaned Design Centre Chelsea Harbour — visit showrooms by appointment. Call 020 7225 9166.
Areas with walkable design shopping clusters will thrive, such as Marylebone High Street and also King’s Road in Chelsea, with Designers Guild open by appointment.
Chiswick is good for top chains such as Fired Earth, Neptune, Sofa Workshop and Heal’s outlet store.
South Kensington has Italian flagships, plus The Conran Shop, OKA and Andrew Martin.
Some shops will still launch new designs online and offer video phone chats, consultations and tours. You can plan rooms, build colour schemes and call in samples. Customers have loved this during lockdown.
Try Neptune for kitchens and CP Hart for bathrooms, both open now, and Farrow & Ball for paint, opening gradually from Monday.
OKA reopens in Chelsea and Guildford on Monday. Habitat in W1 opens from June 22, with its NW3 and W11 stores following on June 29.
Which shops are open now?
IKEA – “meatballs are mothballed”
Ikea is now open in Wembley, Tottenham, Greenwich, Lakeside and Croydon, all with click and collect.
But customer numbers are limited and only one adult and one child can go in at a time – so you’ll probably have to queue.
They’re limiting car parking, while payment is by card only. Watch out for the wardens checking up on social distancing.
Cafes are closed. If you want the company’s famous meatballs, you’ll have to get them at the Swedish Food market to prepare at home. There are contact-free takeaways from all of the bistros except Greenwich.
Ikea deliveries are doorstep only, even if you have a common entrance hall in a block of flats. You’ll have to carry heavy items inside yourself. You might be better shopping with the IKEA app.
“Please come with a list and your own bags,” urges Peter Jelkeby, country retail chief for the UK and Ireland division. “Safety’s top priority. So shopping will be different. But we’re the same IKEA, trying create a better everyday life for everybody.”
DFS – “half-price sofas”
A half-price sofa sale is in full swing at DFS. London stores now open are Brent Cross, New Malden, Croydon and Sidcup, with more promised shortly.
Currently they have sofas up to half price in a huge sale. “We’ve got large stores, on average 14,000sq ft, so social distancing is easier,” says Nick Smith, managing director.
“Our customers know we’re putting safety first, and we’ve had good feedback.” You can make an appointment to try things out, then complete the sale by phone or by live chat. Currently they have new footstools in ravishing floral prints, from £219 to £459.
DFS has been hand-making sofas to order for five decades, many in its three factories in Yorkshire and Derbyshire – and it was one of the first companies to get the BSI Kitemark for upholstered furniture. You’ll get a 15-year guarantee on all DFS sofa frames and frame springs. Delivery and installation – now back in action – costs from £69.
DFS can take away and recycle your old sofa for £89. And it is the “official team GB homeware partner” for the Tokyo Olympics when they eventually take place.
Heal’s – “a first hour of shopping for the vulnerable”
Open now is The Heal’s Building, 196 Tottenham Court Road, W1 (020 7636 1666) and also the Heal’s Chiswick Outlet Store, 124-126 Chiswick High Road, W4 (020 3150 4043). Open from Monday June 15 is Heal’s Westfield White City, Ariel Way, W12 (0333 212 1915).
This fine old brand dating back to 1810, has weathered a fair few crises in its time.
“Refreshed” with new lines and bright displays, Heal’s has been deep cleaned and now has hand sanitisers. There’s a one-way system and customers will be limited in each department.
“We’re sure you can shop safely,” says Amber Coleman, head of retail. Cafes and washrooms are closed. You’ll have your own plastic sheet for trying out furniture. And in-home deliveries are back in action. But you could shop virtually using Zoom – you’ll be walked through the store on a video line, and get expert advice.
Heal’s outlet in Chiswick has up to 70 per cent off “cancelled, returned and overstocked pieces, but some are customised with special fabrics and finishes”.
Expect sofas – including trendy velvet – plus sideboards, wardrobes, shelving, lighting, coffee tables, dining chairs and tables, bed linen and towels, tableware including fine glass, china and cutlery, and mirrors.
Stock is changing all the while – but the store limit is three customers so you may have to queue.
Furniture Village – “best ever prices on famous brands”
All 52 stores are now open, including the Croydon flagship at 222 Purley Way, plus New Malden, Enfield,
Romford, South Ruislip, Orpington, Staines, Watford and Friern Barnet
Furniture Village has a massive sale, with up to 50 per cent off, plus an extra £50 off when you spend £500 and up to £300 off if you spend over £3,000.
There are stringent safety measures in place – you’ll even get your temperature checked. You can book an appointment to avoid a queue. Staff and tills have protective shields.
You’ll get gloves and a paper sheet for trying out sofas and beds.
“It’s going very well, with good customer feedback,” says Charlie Harrison, commercial director, son of founder and chief executive Peter Harrison.
Carpetright – “double discounts”
This flooring specialist has 30 London branches open by appointment, including the flagship at 234 Purley Way, Croydon.
There’s social distancing and customers are limited, so make an appointment, via the website. You could consult Carpetright’s “virtual surveyors” – they’ll go on a video tour of your home and offer expert advice.
There are lots of bargains to tempt customers back. “Double discounts” are knocking extra off sale prices – so carpets, beds and mattresses are up to 50 per cent off, with an additional 20 per cent reduction.
Vinyl, laminate and wood flooring are reduced by up to 20 per cent, with an additional 10 per cent off, and rugs are down 20 per cent.
Sofa Workshop – “sofa distancing to keep you safe”
Up and running now in Chiswick and Battersea, Sofa Workshop has been making stylish upholstery in the UK since 1986.
You can customise a choice of more than 60 models, in styles from sleek contemporary to ornate traditional.
Make an appointment to shop safely.
“Customers have been missing our inspirational displays,” says Kate Wright, head of product and brand. “And a physical test is so important – people want to test for comfort, trying out different fillings and touching the different fabrics.”
Enabling you to do some preliminary research, virtual showroom visits are available, guided by an expert and backed up by a sample service.
A clearance sale is running throughout the summer, with sofas for immediate delivery.