Mon, 18 Jul 2016
IKEA has said it is investigating the cause of the traffic chaos yesterday (Sunday) which saw some shoppers trapped in the new Reading store car park for more than three hours.
There were scenes of chaos during the opening weekend as customers trying to leave the store in Pincents Lane became stuck in a gridlocked multi-storey car park.
The Swedish furniture giant has said the number of visitors was in line with the previous day of the opening weekend when its traffic management “worked as planned”.
IKEA had previosuly blamed an accident on the M4 for exacerbating the situation, however Thames Valley Police said they have no incident recorded.
The situation on Sunday became so serious that police were called to the store by desperate shoppers who were trapped in their cars 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 and operates for shorter trading hours on a Sunday, was forced to close the car park for a time to allow the backlog of traffic to leave.
Johanna Heuren, IKEA Reading store manager, said: “We can confirm that there was a delay with regards to customers exiting the IKEA Reading car park on Sunday afternoon.
“The number of visitors to the store was in line with the previous busy days during the opening weekend where our traffic management plan worked efficiently as planned.
“Our traffic management team responded to keep cars moving as quickly as possible and we’d like to thank customers for being patient and understanding of the situation.
“We are currently investigating the cause of Sunday’s delays.
“We will maintain our traffic management team in place within the opening weeks and take any necessary measurements to continue to minimise disruptions.”
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 while some could do nothing but capture the queues on camera as they sat stationary in their cars.
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.