At Ikea, Chinese shoppers make themselves at home

People escaping the heat by relaxing on a sofa in an Ikea store in Shanghai. Photo courtesy: AFP

Shanghai (AFP) -- When it's sweltering in Shanghai, do as the locals do and settle down for a nap at Ikea -- if you can find an open bed.

Chinese have a peculiar penchant for making themselves at home in the Swedish retailer's airconditioned showrooms, snoozing on beds, dozing on couches, and eating at dinner tables -- and the phenomenon is on full display as the sweltering summer sets in.

With the mercury pushing 37 C (98.6 F) and outside feeling distinctly muggy, people from all walks of life -- children with parents, couples, and the elderly -- can be seen lounging and even, somehow, catching a few Zs amid the crush of shoppers.

Apparently recognising the potential profit that comes from increased footfall, Ikea has long tolerated serving as a surrogate living room for Chinese consumers, many of whom live in tiny apartments and appear to revel in stretching out on a spacious sofa.

But an Ikea store in Shanghai last year imposed a "no food, no seating" rule in its popular cafeteria, which had reportedly become the chosen venue for many widowed or divorced elderly seeking a romantic match.

Ikea's Chinese couch potatoes are expected to remain out in force for the time being.

The Shanghai Meteorological Bureau issued a yellow heatwave signal this week, which warns of temperatures climbing past 35 degrees.


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