By The Guardian
Billy bookcases, sheepskin rugs and meatballs are set to make their debut on Oxford Street. In a moment that marked a big shift in the retail landscape, Ikea announced this week it was taking over Topshop’s former flagship store in London’s most famous shopping district.
The market for furnishings and home accessories has boomed as people have worked from home during the pandemic, and there is every sign that sofas and throw cushions could soon be filling the empty floorspace left by the retreat of physical fashion retailers.
Lucy Stainton, the commercial director at the high street analysts Local Data Company, said: “Fashion has been consistently retrenching from the high street for a number of years, compounded by the pandemic with people investing less in their wardrobes as we were at home for such a prolonged period. With a number of high street fashion brands rationalising their estates either organically or through a restructuring, many units have been left vacant as a result.”
Ikea’s move into town puts it up against H&M and Zara, which have set up specialist homewares chains, as well as more traditional outlets such as Next and John Lewis and upstarts such as Anthropolgie, Arket and Urban Outfitters, which present shoppers with a lifestyle mix of fashion and home kit.
Online specialists including Made.com and Loaf have also put down markers on the high street to publicise their businesses, while the DIY specialists B&Q and Homebase are testing out small stores. John Lewis tried to draw in shoppers for its new Anyday low-price homewares range with pop-up standalone stores in some shopping centres, and is looking for more small high street spaces.
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