As B&Q comes in for criticism nationally, do you think DIY stores should be open?

B&Q at Euro Retail Park, Ipswich. Picture: DAVID VINCENT

B&Q at Euro Retail Park, Ipswich. Picture: DAVID VINCENT - Credit: Archant

DIY giant B&Q is coming in for criticism nationally over the decision to reopen 155 of its stores during lockdown- after its Ipswich store was one of the first to open.

The company shut all its stores in late March, but opened just 14 branches, including its Ipswich branch at Euro Retail Park, in a trial last weekend.

It has now gradually opened up 155 stores nationally, including Colchester, Chelmsford, Clacton and Basildon in Essex, as well as the Ipswich store.

The store chain stressed that it has introduced a series of safeguards, including social distancing and accepting only contactless and card payments,

But there has been widespread criticism of the decision on social media, as photos have emerged of long queues in some other areas of the country. One Twitter user described the situation nationally as “absolute carnage.”

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On our Facebook pages, Perry Jones from Ipswich said: “Visited today. Saw how full the car park was. Saw how long the queues were. Started counting the vectors for transmission in the place. Decided to lap the car park with the windows up and go back home. Ridiculous.”

Ben Connelly commented: “I saw it the other day and couldn’t quite believe how busy it was. A friend sent me a picture and he was in a half hour queue.

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“I suppose a lot of people have been home and realise they have plenty of time for DIY jobs.”

Steve Knights said: “Can’t really see why they are allowed when other shops etc are not allowed. I’m sure people can wait to paint their houses or weed their garden!”

And Shirley Hinchliffe commented: “Crazy, the virus has not flown away. Keep your distance, stay home.”

However, many commenters felt it was important for the stores to open. Norman Lloyd said: “I saw the queues and would not describe as carnage. The mental wellbeing is just as important as our physical condition. If that means that by buying paint which gives someone satisfaction and a sense of achievement then thats good. The caveat would be staff and customers should never be put at risk.”

And Rachael Jackson said: “All this grand-standing about supposedly ‘non-essential’ items is quite out of order. Some of us need to be busy in different ways, for the sake of our own sanity! But, as you rightly say, let’s keep key workers safe, at all times.”

Leanne Woods commented: “I’ve been and they have better distancing and rules in place, unlike some corner shops/garages and supermarkets that I have been into in the last few weeks.”

Paige Martin said: “I had to go today to get a bulb for my kitchen. I live in a one-bed flat with hardly any natural lighting and without that bulb I couldn’t see in there at all! It’s not something I can get elsewhere either, as it’s uncommon. So I think it’s convenient to have open, but I did see a few people buying what I would’ve considered non-essential. Hopefully the novelty of it being open will wear off soon and it won’t be so bad!”

B&Q said on its official blog: “Similar to shopping at supermarkets, we’ve introduced social distancing controls at our re-opened stores. We’re strictly limiting the number of customers in store at any one time, and so you may find you need to queue if you visit the store.

“To help remind everyone to respect each other’s personal space, we have two metre floor markers throughout the store and also perspex screens at our checkouts.

“At these re-opened stores, customers can purchase products that are available for takeaway in store on the day. However, services such as kitchen and bathroom design, paint mixing, timber cutting and key cutting are not available for the time being. We are accepting card, gift card and contactless payments only.”

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