Lockdown restrictions are gradually beginning to ease across the country, with the UK government now permitting homeware stores to reopen for business in England.
The rule change has already seen the likes of Matalan and Dunelm reopen a number of their branches, and several more chains are due to do the same this weekend.
Which furniture stores are reopening?
On Friday (22 May), DFS will reopen a handful of its outlets to customers after the government gave the green light for furniture stores to restart trading.
Furniture Village will reopen all 52 of its branches on Saturday (23 May), with social distancing measures due to be in place.
The company tested new safety measures in six stores over the past week ahead of its reopening, including Bristol, Gillingham, Tamworth and York.
Stores have now been rearranged so that every customer will be greeted at the entrance.
At this point, shoppers will be required to have their temperature checked and will be asked to sanitise their hands before entering the store.
Staff will also be subject to temperature checks ahead of entering and will be equipped with protective face shields, along with perspex screens in front of tills.
Disposable pens will also be available for any paperwork that needs to be filled out.
Sofa specialist ScS has also said it is aiming to reopen “as soon as practically possible”.
Is Ikea reopening?
Ikea is understood to be planning to trial the reopening of a small number of its stores this weekend (23 May).
The retailer is set to reopen 19 stores across England and Northern Ireland from 1 June, with social distancing wardens patrolling stores to ensure government safety guidance is maintained.
However, families will be banned from entering the stores, with Ikea only permitting one adult and one child per household inside at any one time.
The stores that will reopen are in Croydon, Greenwich, Lakeside, Wembley, Tottenham, Norwich collection point, Birmingham, Nottingham, Belfast, Manchester, Warrington, Gateshead, Leeds, Sheffield, Milton Keynes, Reading, Southampton, Bristol and Exeter.
What stores are already open?
Homeware chain Dunelm reopened seven of its stores in the Midlands on 12 May, after the government gave the go-ahead for such stores to start reopening for business.
Since this date, the retailer has gradually reopened 39 of its 171 stores and allowed shoppers who placed orders online to collect them from the majority of its locations from 12 May.
The gradual reopening comes after the UK government clarified its definition of “essential” retailers to say that homeware stores were now included.
Retailers had previously refrained from opening due to concerns over safely operating deliveries of large items, such as sofas and beds, which require two people.
When will non-essential shops reopen?
In England, non-essential retailers are to be reopened in phases from 1 June, providing it is considered safe to do so and outlets can adhere to new guidelines.
Scotland will begin to reopen shops in the last stage of its lockdown exit plan, which will only begin once the virus remains suppressed to very low levels and is no longer considered a significant threat to public health.
Non-essential shops could be permitted to reopen in Northern Ireland from 1 June, while in Wales, the Welsh government has not specified dates on when restrictions could be eased.
However, First Minister Mark Drakeford did state that some measures would need to be reintroduced much further down the line than other areas, including retail.