Ikea's main franchisee has reopened all but one of its stores in China, and next month it plans to welcome crowds back to its European stores, too. Ingka Group—the world's largest furniture retailer, operating 420 Ikea stores around the world—aims to reopen stores in Europe in May, after a closure period of no more than two months, CEO Jesper Brodin tells Reuters. "The sales drop in the period we're in is about 60%," says Brodin. "This is the period we need to persevere and, so to speak, survive." But he says there's still plenty of interest in shopping. Online sales have doubled from this time in 2019 and "some countries are close to 10 times the e-commerce they had before the outbreak."
Sales in China, where Ingka has reopened all of its stores excluding one in Wuhan, have already returned to year-ago levels. Brodin adds there's particular interest in office furniture, laundry baskets, cooking equipment, and low-cost items. "Tendencies are similar to what we saw after 2008—that people have less money," he says. Ingka therefore intends to increase its range of low-cost items. It also plans to boost stock of baby items in seven to eight months as "crises back in time have resulted in baby booms." It's not clear when North American stores might reopen. But if it's the Swedish meatballs you crave, Ikea has shared a recipe for "an at-home alternative … using easily accessible ingredients," per CNN. (Read more IKEA stories.)