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Shoppers panic buy as IKEA shuts stores & factories in Russia

people line up at the entrance to ikea rostokino in moscow
Shoppers panic buy as IKEA shuts Russian storesSOPA Images - Getty Images

Shoppers in Russia swarmed to their local IKEA store after the Swedish furniture retailer announced it would temporarily close all stores in Russia and Belarus.

IKEA has now paused operations in both countries for the foreseeable future due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, but the announcement saw shoppers race to their local store to spend their roubles on new home furnishings.

'The devastating war in Ukraine is a human tragedy, and our deepest empathy and concerns are with the millions of people impacted. The immediate actions of Inter IKEA Group and Ingka Group have been to support the personal safety and security of IKEA co-workers and their families, and we will continue to do so,' IKEA said in a statement.

Images and footage captured in-store showed customers queueing for hours on end trying to enter stores. Those who managed to get inside were pictured leaving with, in many cases, their hands full or a packed trolley of home accessories and furniture.

In IKEA Rostokino in Moscow, customers were trying to enter from the exit doors as the entrance doors were closed, while a video on social media showed two customers fighting in one store over a saucepan. And one IKEA outlet in Tyoply Stan in Moscow reportedly saw a record number of visitors.

Photo credit: SOPA Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: SOPA Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: SOPA Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: SOPA Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Konstantin Zavrazhin - Getty Images
Photo credit: Konstantin Zavrazhin - Getty Images
Photo credit: Oleg Nikishin - Getty Images
Photo credit: Oleg Nikishin - Getty Images

One shopper told Reuters in Rostov, a town 217 km from Moscow: 'The purchases that I planned to make in April, I urgently bought today. A friend from Voronezh also told me to buy for her.'

But the images of customers panic buying has caused controversy given the unfolding catastrophe in Ukraine.

Belarusian journalist, Hanna Liubakova, tweeted: '#Russia Giant queues during the last day when @IKEA in Moscow is open. Surely. The most important thing is a new chair when the leadership of your country launched a deadly war. (sic)'

IKEA said the war, which has had a huge human impact already, has also 'resulted in serious disruptions' to its supply chain and trading conditions. As a result they've decided to temporarily pause IKEA operations in Russia, which impacts 15,000 workers and 17 stores. This means that:

• Inter IKEA Group has paused all export and import in and out of Russia and Belarus.

• Inter IKEA Group has paused all IKEA Industry production operations in Russia. This also means that all deliveries from all sub-suppliers to these units are paused.

• Ingka Group has paused all IKEA Retail operations in Russia. The shopping centre Mega, will continue to be open to ensure that the many people in Russia have access to their daily needs and essentials such as food, groceries and pharmacies.

• IKEA Foundation, funded by Ingka Foundation, will make a donation of €20 million for humanitarian assistance to those who have been forcibly displaced as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.

IKEA joins the likes of Apple, Marks & Spencer, ASOS, Chanel, H&M, Mango and more in halting operations in Russia.

How to help

There are lots of charities taking donations to help Ukrainians. Please see a recommended list below:

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