Go to Ikea, go to sleep

A family resting on a display bed at an Ikea store in Beijing.
A family resting on a display bed at an Ikea store in Beijing.PHOTO: NEW YORK TIMES

BEIJING • When browsing coffee tables, kitchen cabinets and dessert plates becomes too exhausting at an Ikea store in China, feel free to pass out under a deliciously cosy Flong duvet or across a Stora loft bed - right in the showroom.

You will be in good company.

At Ikea's 21 stores across China, customers (and those simply looking for some climate-controlled shut-eye) have no qualms about getting comfortable on the display furniture.

The madding crowd or a stranger already slumbering in the same bed is, the Chinese will tell you, no obstacle to a good nap.

The Chinese ability to sleep wherever, whenever, is something of a national pastime.

Citizens can be found dozing off, sometimes in bizarre contortions, in supermarkets, on playground equipment, on the backs of mopeds, under parked vehicles and on Ikea display beds.

But why limit oneself to beds when so many couches and chairs are beckoning?

While snoozing is prohibited at Ikea stores elsewhere, the Swedish retailer has long permitted Chinese customers to doze off, rather than alienate shoppers accustomed to sleeping in public.

Last year, the Chinese state news media reported that the company was planning to crack down on "impolite behaviour" by waking nappers who had removed their shoes or snuggled under the covers.

But those rules were never enforced, perhaps because Ikea believes that a nation of one billion consumers who sleep in its shops will someday decide to take that furniture home.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2016, with the headline 'Go to Ikea, go to sleep'. Subscribe