A family of shoppers have been discovered in a branch of IKEA who originally arrived at the store in 1997.

According to witnesses at their Swedish furniture chain’s Thurrock branch, it is believed that Alan and Michelle Garridge and their three now grown-up children have been roaming the aisles of the warehouse aimlessly for the last 22 years.

Mrs Garridge said, ‘It was a beautiful Summer’s day and we decided that we needed to refresh the table and chairs in our dining room.’

‘We found the one that we wanted in the display area upstairs, but by the time we got down to the warehouse we realised that although the table and chairs were in one location, our chosen finish of Sudanese Teak was elsewhere.’

‘I think it’s got something to do with the fact that every item has its own sodding IP address that bears no resemblance to where it is actually situated.’

‘We originally had my aunt Helga with us as well, but she succumbed to lingonberry jam poisoning in 2004.’

In a statement, IKEA chief executive Anders Limpar said that extra precautions would now be taken for shoppers.

He said, ‘If you arrive at any of our stores and are concerned that you may never be seen again, distress flares will be available from our main customer services desk.’

‘Thereafter, as soon as you notice that you may need emergency assistance, you simply pull the release lever and a cloud of neon-coloured sawdust will be released into the air.’

‘Additionally, we are advising shoppers to ensure that their affairs are in order and inform their next of kin.’