Sun, 17 Jul 2016
THE sheer number of shoppers at IKEA Reading yesterday (Sunday) caused chaos in the store's car park as customers were trapped in their vehicles for hours.
Some shoppers were stuck for more than three hours as the store's car park became gridlocked during its opening weekend.
Staff at the UK's newest IKEA in Pincents Lane, Calcot took to handing out drinks to those stuck in their cars, while some people decided to abandon their vehicles.
The situation became so serious that police were called to the scene by desperate shoppers who were trapped between 1pm and 4pm.
Officers helped manage the traffic situation and offered advice to management, although a police spokesperson said it was IKEA's responsibility to manage the flow of traffic on site.
The store, which has only been open since Thursday, was forced to close the car park for a time to allow the back log of traffic to leave.
IKEA has blamed an accident on the M4 for exacerbating the situation, however Thames Valley Police say they have no incident recorded.
A Thames Valley Police spokesperson said: "IKEA is responsible for the traffic management on and around the site and for the safety of customers in the car park as it is private property.
"Police attended to speak with IKEA management and give advice due to the impact on the local road network.
"Local officers also assisted with traffic on A4 and other nearby roads, however police have limited powers to direct traffic on the highway in the absence of an emergency or a traffic regulation order.
"The traffic regulation is the responsibility of IKEA and the car park is private property therefore also IKEA's responsibility."
Angry shoppers took to social media to vent their frustration as they sat stationary in their cars.
Some endured the chaos, thankful for the drinks from staff, while others chose to abandon their vehicles until the jam had cleared.
Thankful 4 the staff giving out water and biscuits - need help with traffic control!! #ikeareading— Nicola Page (@AvaPage88) 17 July 2016
@IKEAReading hope you are all moving now! We abandoned our car on level 2. Is it better now? We need to come back and pick the car up.— Jason hendricks (@JasonHend) 17 July 2016
The 32,000sq m West Berkshire store opened on Thursday (July 14) to much excitement, however warnings were issued over the possibility of traffic congestion.
Were you trapped in the IKEA car park? Email reporter firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know.