Shanghai’s elderly residents had their world rocked earlier this month by a new rule from IKEA stating that they must “order food first, then take a seat” at the store’s cafeteria. Farther north, Beijing IKEA has recently confirmed that it will not be resorting to this draconian measure.
For as long as anyone can remember, every Tuesday and Thursday, Shanghai’s IKEA cafeteria has become a place for the city’s seniors to relax, gossip and find true love. Twice each week, locals of a certain age swarm to the in-store restaurant by the hundreds for the makeshift matchmaking sessions, consuming enormous amounts of coffee (free to holders of the IKEA family membership card) and driving down revenues by 20% in the process.
This ritual has been going on for a number of years, with IKEA being forced to call in extra security to deal with the unruly old-timers, but apparently store managers have now had enough. On October 5th, the Shanghai Xuhui location finally cracked down on these lovelorn seniors, declaring that love has a price and that they must actually buy something if they want to use the tables, citing customer complaints about not being able to find a seat and being annoyed at having to overhear retirees loudly flirting all the time.
“The situation had already adversely affected the dining experience and security of most of its customers, and also had negative implications for the canteen’s operation,” Shanghai IKEA said in a statement.
However, according to an employee at one of the two IKEA locations in Beijing, the capital’s outlets have never suffered from the same kinds of problems that have plagued the Shanghai store. ECNS reports that an IKEA Beijing marketing employee declared that there was absolutely no need for the same kind of restrictions on cafeteria-goers in Beijing, continuing the stores’ laissez-faire attitude when it comes to customers.
Turns out, Beijing is for lovers.