IKEA IS KNOWN all over the world as the biggest furniture retailer, the most successful Swedish brand—and the cause of family quarrels over the asse
IKEA IS KNOWN all over the world as the biggest furniture retailer, the most successful Swedish brand—and the cause of family quarrels over the assembly of BILLY bookshelves or HEMNES wardrobes. It has so far never made a name for itself as a place of worship. But on May 24th the car park of an IKEA shop in Wetzlar, a city in Germany, welcomed hundreds of Muslims for a Sunday prayer to mark the end of Ramadan, against the backdrop of the blue-and-yellow storefront. It was a nice gesture in times of social distancing.
Like all non-food retailers, IKEA needed a lift. Around 80% of its 433 shops in 50 countries had to shut and many are still closed. Its shops in Germany only reopened their doors in early May, after two months of pandemic lockdown.
Another important pick-me-up is that shoppers have returned in force, starting in China. Having entered lockdown before the rest of the world, Chinese consumers also emerged from it earlier—and plenty of them immediately hit IKEA shops. Many bought big and expensive items, says Jesper Brodin, chief executive of Ingka Group, the parent company that holds and operates most IKEA shops (as well as running Ingka Centres, which manages the group’s shopping malls, and a fund called Ingka Investments).
To Mr Brodin’s surprise, reopenings in Europe have involved “an effort in crowd control”. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland customers…