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Ikea in China Struggles With Sleeping Customers

Ikea is a Swedish company with an international presence. Known for its affordable furniture that consumers assemble themselves, its stores can be found around the world, with extensive displays of different styles and configurations found in mazelike configurations. The shopping experience can be overwhelming and time consuming, and apparently that has resulted in some of the store’s visitors transitioning from simply testing the beds to actually using them.

Though the store once seemed to think that the idea of Ikea shoppers snoozing on the job was cute, even going so far as to initiate a marketing campaign in which they invited customers to snap and post photos of sleeping customers, things have apparently gotten out of hand in the store’s Beijing location, where people come to the store exclusively to sleep, with no intention whatsoever of purchasing anything. The Chinese Ikea stores once claimed to encourage the public to nap on their displays, claiming that doing so illustrated how comfortable their furniture is and represented an acknowledgement of the different culture represented in China. Newspapers carried stories about how residents were picnicking in the stores, bringing children in to play in playrooms and entertaining in living room set-ups. The retailer has since have apparently changed its mind, and has announced new regulations that ban people from sleeping on their furniture.

According to workers in the Beijing store, the situation has gotten completely out of hand, with masses of people entering the store throughout the day and heading straight for the beds and couches, taking advantage of the fact that the stores are air conditioned and that the beds are fully equipped with sheets and pillows. Not only do the sleepers present an unsightly (and often unhygienic) image, but they also prevent actual consumers from testing out the beds. A toddler was recently seen sleeping next to his grandmother and then peeing into a plastic bottle, with much of the urine saturating the bed. The store’s spokesman says that as many as 28,000 people would enter the store on a busy day, leaving store employees responsible for wakening hundreds. Some parents leave children to play in the store and go to other stores to shop or run errands, and entire families are found sleeping in display set ups.

The problem that the store has now encountered, with its new regulations, is that people are simply not paying attention. They are finding that Chinese furniture squatters are simply not listening when employees try to shoo them off of the furniture, with some arguing and others simply getting up and moving on to another piece of furniture out of sight of the employee that forced them to wake up.

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