Today Ikea, the world’s largest furniture company, announced it will be closing all 50 stores across the United States to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. This is the most responsible way IKEA can continue to care for our co-workers and our customers in a manner that is healthy and safe,” said Javier Quiñones, IKEA Retail U.S. President, in a press release. “We are taking our role in containing this epidemic seriously, and we recognize the positive impact our actions could have on making life better for the millions of people who have been impacted by this crisis.”
Previously, Ikea had closed its play areas and restaurants while keeping the stores open, but the tight maze of home furnishings is just the sort of thing that invites touching and close contact—exactly what experts recommend people avoid. Ikea has closed numerous stores globally in a long list of countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland.
In China, where stores closed at the end of January, some stores are already “being reopened gradually,” according to the company.
Ikea’s U.S. stores will be closed to visitors, but people can still order furniture for home delivery or through “click & collect.”
Most of Ikea’s 18,000 U.S. employees are hourly workers. Ikea will not only continue to offer benefits and paid leave to those employees, but the company clarified with Fast Company that it will also continue paying these employees for their normal shifts while Ikea plans its larger recovery strategy.