Hair we go: Barbers packed and queues at IKEA as lockdown easing begins

It was a day longed for across the country, a first cautious step towards normality as the tight grip of lockdown was eased.

Yesterday saw hairdressers, homeware shops and garden centres reopening their doors to customers, while non-essential click-and-collect services were also allowed to resume.

For many, it just could not come soon enough.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Barber Tony Mann opened his shop in Giffnock, East Renfrewshire, at 6am on Monday to welcome back his eager customers

A huge queue formed at Ikea in Glasgow on Monday as the store reopened. Picture: Brendan McIlroy

It was the beginning of a busy day for the four barbers working, with 96 customers booked in, and the shop open until 8pm.

Mr Mann said: “It’s been four months since the last day we cut hair so the feeling today is slight anxiety and slight worry, like ‘is everything going to go to plan?’, but I’m also feeling really excited and happy because my shop is open again.

“We start at 6am and finish at 8pm. I didn’t fancy doing another 24-hour shift this time (he opened at midnight when lockdown last eased) but we’re open long enough.”

He said customers have been delighted to be able to book haircuts again.

Barber Tony Mann trims Max Mann's hair at Tony Mann's Barber Shop in Giffnock near Glasgow

Mr Mann added: “It’s mental health, getting a haircut and making yourself feel good is a big part of life, and if you can’t make yourself feel good and you only get it from a small variety of places then you’re not going to be in a particularly good place.”

His brother Maxx Mann was one of the first people in Scotland to get a haircut on Monday and was delighted with the result.

He said: “It’s a good feeling. It’s been a long few months but it’s always worth the wait if you know you’re coming for Tony to cut your hair.

“I usually get my hair cut once every week or once every 10 days so to go months and months without isn’t ideal, I’m sure the general public probably feel the same.”

Martin McCarron,who owns the West End Garden Centre in Glasgow.

Over in Edinburgh, Julie McGuire’s hair salon welcomed the First Minister as one of their first customers, with Nicola Sturgeon posting a picture of herself at the Dalmeny Street shop with the caption: “Happy day.”

Ms McGuire has worked with the FM many years now and said “it's an absolute pleasure”.

Elsewhere, hundreds of customers were seen queuing outside the IKEA Glasgow as it reopened for business.

Some had been waiting in line at the car park since 7am to get into the popular homeware and furniture store in Braehead.

Meanwhile, as the clocks struck 10am, garden centres were preparing to open to customers for the first time in three months.

A steady stream of plant lovers visited the West End Garden Centre in Glasgow on Monday after it opened its doors.

Customer Anne McGregor said she had marked the day in her diary after relying on home deliveries, adding: “It’s great to see what’s there for yourself rather than on a website.”

She said: “I was keeping an eye on when it was going to reopen.

“I’ve got pots outside the house and it’s so nice to get some colour into them.

“Over the winter all the colour had gone, there are some green plants there, but this will add a splash of something brighter to the front door.”

Retired head teacher Janice Donaldson, 70, added she had been lining up her visit “the moment it was allowed”, adding: “I like my garden looking nice, I’ve got hanging baskets to do, and now things are looking up again.”

Owner Martin McCarron, 36, who opened the centre around two years ago, said the phone had been “ringing non-stop with people desperate for us to reopen” and that customers “have been so happy to get out”.

He said: “We’ve been doing home deliveries which has been reasonably busy but there is a big appetite to get out yourself.

“I think this lockdown made people appreciate plants. There is a lot more demand for people growing their own fruit and veg, there’s a big movement towards self-sufficiency and appetite for anything local.

“People are just desperate to get going.”

Diggers and labourers were working around the centre constructing a new shop which will offer a range of seeds and bulbs and more options for indoor plants, he said.

Interior stylist Sue Berry, 67 and David Berry, 65, picked up some plants for their garden which was “looking a bit bare”.

Mrs Berry said: “I follow them on Facebook to see all the lovely plants online, but coming in person you see them all looking wonderfully healthy.

“I was out yesterday painting the deck around the house, and today I’ve been asking for some advice about plants to go with our garden arch. We’ve been too long indoors.”

They said it was “fantastic” to be out as they had been shielding for much of last year, with Mrs Berry saying she was looking forward to being able to visit her mother in Merseyside.

Teacher Chris Ross, 41, and his partner Jude also popped in for supplies to brighten up their new garden in Hyndland, saying: “Over the last lockdown we spent a lot of time outside and hopefully this spring is as good.”

Monday’s opening has been welcomed by retail groups but hospitality businesses have been more sceptical.

The Scottish Beer & Pub Association said pubs will have missed out on selling eight million pints at Easter due to the fact they remain closed.

The changes came as the latest Scottish Government data indicated no deaths of people who had first tested positive for coronavirus in the previous 28 days were recorded for the third day in a row.

Monday’s lockdown changes will be followed on April 26 with a wider reopening of the economy, with beer gardens and gyms returning to trading and more people being able to meet outdoors and inside public places.