DIY stores booming as people keep calm and carry on painting

‘We need something to do for our mental health if we’re stuck in if there’s a lockdown’

DIY stores in the State have been enjoying a boom in sales due to coronavirus. Photograph: Jade Wilson

DIY stores in the State have been enjoying a boom in sales due to coronavirus. Photograph: Jade Wilson

 

DIY stores are seeing “unprecedented” numbers of customers shopping for last-minute supplies in preparation for the possibility of further restrictions on their movements due to the coronavirus.

Some of the stores have been holding sales, which has also contributed to demand.

Woodie’s on the Naas Road in Dublin is one of the DIY outlets experiencing extremely high demand. On Saturday afternoon there were long queues for the store, with all customers observing the recommended 2-metre distance between each other as they waited for entry.

We just came out today to get stuff to keep our mind occupied later on, or we will go ‘Lady Gaga’

Outside in the car park, Sharon and her partner Martin (who did not want to give surnames) loaded tins of paint and units for their bathroom into the car boot.

“We need something to do for our mental health if we’re stuck in if there’s a lockdown. I find the situation very serious and frightening. No one knows what’s going to happen,” Sharon said. The couple had been to several DIY stores on Saturday and described the scene at the nearby store Homebase as “a free-for-all.”

“The place was packed, people were on top of each other. But we still went in because it was 50 per cent off for the paint. I had gloves on but with all those people roaming around, I was nervous. I just kept my distance. I’ve only left the house for work or grocery shopping but we just came out today to get stuff to keep our mind occupied later on, or we will go ‘Lady Gaga’,” she said.At Homebase, Eddie Fitzgerald from Ballyfermot was shopping for equipment to “more or less redo the whole house”.

“I’m unemployed as a result of Covid-19. I was a taxi driver and I’ve put in for the Covid payment. I’d rather be out working but there isn’t much work there, and for the 20 or 30 quid you might pick up, is it worth getting an infection? I don’t think so,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

I’m just trying to keep myself busy and the last time we did a paint job was a long time ago

Mr Fitzgerald has found painting to be a “very good distraction” having painted two rooms in his house already. “I’m getting paint for the third room now.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had to apply for social welfare in my entire life. It’s strange. So I’m just trying to keep myself busy and the last time we did a paint job was a long time ago,” he said.

Mr Fitzgerald’s partner, Sharon Byrne, said they were doing their best to keep their distance from other people in the store. “But it is worrying. Some of the queues have been massive,” she added.

Throughout the DIY sector it has been seven days of very heavy trading. At B&Q in Liffey Valley, the queue at one point stretched around the corner of the retail park. A staff member described customer numbers as “unprecedented” and noted that numbers had “ramped up non-stop since last Friday”.

Inside the store, 2-metre social distancing signs were placed at the tills and announcements were made about social distancing. When certain aisles became full (most often the paint aisle, with many opting for beige, grey and eggshell colours) staff encouraged customers to keep their distance.

Other customers were shopping for plants and gardening tools. One shopper, Michelle (who did not want to give her surname), from Blanchardstown, said she’s found it hard being stuck inside. “It’s not easy. I’m looking for things to do at home so I can stay in as much as I can, and I enjoy gardening. I plant flowers every now and then.”

It’s no use keeping people apart in queues – everybody inside is still bouncing off one another

Similarly, Megan Griffin was looking for a potted plant she could gift to her mother for Mother’s Day, as well as bulbs for her bedroom, saying: “My lights went out – these things still happen.”

Brian Fish from Clondalkin took his son Ryan (11) shopping for timber. “I’m a builder. I’m going to build the base for a fish pond out the back. We need to pass the time with the two kids and mess about,” he said.

“We’re preparing for a lockdown so I’m just getting some last-minute stuff. I do think they should do a proper lockdown, though – everywhere should be closed. It’s no use keeping people apart in queues – everybody inside is still bouncing off one another, so what’s the point?”

Graham Bell, the chief executive of B&Q, said the stores will stay open for as long as it is safe to do so.

“The safety of our colleagues and customers is paramount. We are monitoring advice from the Government and the World Health Organisation, and reviewing our plans daily.”