MANILA – IKEA is betting on Filipinos who find joy in “decluttering” and beautifying their homes to boost sales of its Pasay City store during the COVID-19 pandemic, its country manager Georg Platzer said Friday.
The pandemic has an “interesting impact” on home furnishing as money allotted to travel or vacation were invested instead in making the home as "cozy" as possible, Platzer told reporters during a tour of IKEA Pasay City on Friday.
“I know there’s less money in total, less money available for consumption, but we believe also that still a big share of the available money goes into home furnishing. That’ why I’m positive of our success here,” Platzer said.
“So people, instead of going for a vacation or buying a new car, they would invest money into the home, especially for work solution, office solution, the bedroom, people really invested in a good night sleep and also storage solutions. Decluttering makes them happy,” he added.
Majority of Metro Manila’s over 13 million population were forced to stay at home in March 2020 when the pandemic hit the country. Workers shifted to remote work while students turned to online learning.
The health situation has improved since but many are still working from home.
Other local furniture and construction stores such as Wilcon Depot, as well as e-commerce sites such as Shopee, have also noted an increase in sales in home items throughout quarantine.
The world’s biggest IKEA outlet will finally open in the Philippines on Nov. 25 after months of delays partly due to the pandemic and other disasters that struck since the project started a few years ago, Platzer said.
“Some things in the Philippines being an archipelago just take time. You cannot compare this to European countries where everything comes in the road… [In the Philippines] natural disaster, typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, pandemic, we’ve got everything here. You don’t have these things everywhere in the world,” he quipped.
But Platzer said he is confident of IKEA’s success as proven by the 9 weeks of its online operations, which has already satisfied almost 30,000 online shoppers. He said the brick and mortar store could trigger more sales.
Although he declined to share the sales target for the first year, Platzer said they hope to reach 7 million visitors for the first full year and to serve them safely during the pandemic.
Out of the 68,000-sqm, 5-storey facility, a combined total of 15,000 sqm are for the showroom and the market hall, while 16,000 sqm is for the dedicated warehouse.
It also has a restaurant, known for its Swedish meatballs, that would only accommodate 60 percent of its seating capacity to comply with health protocols, Platzer said.
The entire building can accommodate 8,000 but only half will be allowed inside the building at any given time, including staff to ensure the safety of shoppers, Platzer said.
IKEA said it would open booking slots for shopping. There will be no walk-ins allowed.
So far, IKEA Philippines directly employs about 600 and has generated around 1,000 more jobs in areas such as transport providers, assembly, cleaners, packers and security, he said.
The Swedish furniture maker now has 463 stores around the world, including the Philippine branch.