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At P5 furniture store, all surfaces and items are given a thorough clean at the end of the day.

(Left) At Space, items are regularly cleaned throughout the day. (Right) atomi lifestyle store uses a UVC light to keep the space sanitised.

Space: Lounging Safely

Furniture stores welcome customers to sit on their chairs but are discreetly cleaning them after.
Jun 26, 2020 5:50 AM

WHILE THERE WAS a massive queue at Ikea when the store reopened on June 19, it was a quieter affair for luxury furniture retailers. You may even find yourself the lone shopper, with the full attention of the sales personnel, who after weeks of not meeting customers face to face, are eager to show what the brands have, without being pushy.

During a visit to P5 at Winsland House and Space Furniture at Bencoolen Street over the weekend, there were a few couples browsing but both stores were definitely not crowded. Perhaps the rainy weather on that Saturday kept potential shoppers home.

As with all other places, there is the mandatory SafeEntry check-in, and temperature taking at both stores.

When asked about the crowd on opening day, P5’s general manager Ann Lee says they had several groups of clients come in. P5 carries brands such as Molteni&C and Dada. “As they had previously made appointments with us before phase 2 started, we could schedule their visits throughout the day,” she says. “They can shop online, but when it comes to designer furniture, clients prefer to be able to touch and feel before making a purchase.”

She adds that while they welcome walk-ins clients, appointments are preferred. “It helps with crowd control, and we can show clients
around personally,” she says.

Ms Lee says that three days before the showroom reopened, there was a thorough sanitisation done. Now at the end of each day, staff stay back to give all hard surfaces a wipe down while fabric surfaces are vacuumed.

Over at Space Furniture, the spacious 40,000 sq ft showroom spread over four floors means that it can accommodate a fairly large number of customers at any time.

Instead of designating a staff to accompany customers, they are free to walk around.

There’s a lift to get to all floors, with a 1m spacing clearly marked out at the lift landing and inside the lift. But if you don’t fancy
touching surfaces unnecessarily you might want to take the stairs.

Retail manager Chan Wen Li says that while customers were free to browse on their own, there are staff on each floor to keep an eye on them. “We are on hand in case they need assistance, and also we take note about what they’ve touched, so that we can give
them a wipe down after. But of course we do the cleaning discreetly,” she says. Hearing that items are frequently cleaned definitely
gives a sense of assurance.

Ms Chan adds that staff have been briefed to take more initiative during this period. “For example, rather than the customer pulling out a dining chair to try, we do it for them so they don’t have to worry about touching contaminated surfaces. We constantly sanitise our hands.”

The showroom is also cleaned at the start of each day. “We want customers to feel comfortable and reassured when they shop here,” says Ms Chan.

At two other furniture retailers, cleaning has also been stepped up.

Lim Choon Hong, managing director of Xtra at Marina Square assures that cleaning is done throughout the day. The store’s Herman Miller work chairs have been so popular that “we decided to spread out the display and testing of the chairs throughout the showroom, so there is no congregation.”

Andrew Tan, founder of atomi and actus häuse invested in two UVC table lamps for his stores These lamps are said to kill bacteria and viruses in the air and on surfaces, and are also good for killing mould and dust mites. Twice a day, once at lunch time and the other at the end of the day, the doors are locked and the UV lamps are switched on for an hour to sanitise the stores.

Since the stores reopened, Mr Tan has also set aside a room strictly for sterilising products that customers have touched.

“Even though the situation is improving, we are not entirely out of the woods yet. In fact, Covid-19 might be something we have to live with for some time, so we are taking all the necessary precautions to keep our staff and customers safe,” he adds.