Visit any Ikea, and you’ll see hordes of 20-somethings milling through a vast maze of bed frames, bookshelves, tables, and lamps.
More than 771 million people visit the home furnishing company’s 375 retail locations (40 of which are in the US) each year. Collectively, these stores generate an annual revenue of $34.5 billion USD and use 530 million cubic feet of wood to manufacture their ready-to-build offerings. A supposed ease of construction, modern design, and relative affordability have made Ikea a furniture mecca for young college grads.
But as tastes mature, consumers tend to abandon Ikea for classier or more home improvement-focused retailers.
The credit and financing company Earnest recently analyzed a dataset of more than 10,000 American shoppers’ spending habits to address a pertinent question: When do consumers ditch Ikea?
The answer: at approximately the age of 34.
According to the data, the prime Ikea years —what Earnest calls the “Ikea decade” — run from the mid-20s to the early 30s, with 24 years old as the absolute peak (31 percent shop there). At around 34 — the national average home buying age — shoppers begin to abandon Ikea.
Let’s take a look at where they go.
From Ikea to Lowe’s: where we buy home furnishings over our lifetime
As the halcyon days of Ikea fade away in the mid-30s, consumers gravitate toward a slew of other retailers — some fancier, others just more practical for home improvement purposes.
Earnest combed its data for spending habits at the largest 14 furniture retailers in America and determined the age at which most respondents reported shopping at each store. Below, we’ve mapped out the average consumer’s progression over time.
With a peak customer age of 24, Ikea’s customers are the only contingent that falls under 30 here.
As consumers age into their early 30s, they move toward housewares and home accessory stores like Bed Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, and the Container Store.
This isn’t, of course, an indication that they outgrow Ikea: It could be the case that most young adults purchase their essential furniture items (bed frames, couches, chairs, etc.) when they have their first apartment, then cling to them throughout their 30s, turning their focus to the plethora of smaller home necessities, like nicer sheets, curtains, and dinner sets.
Older customers (those in their late 40s to mid-50s) seem to prefer home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. When these folks do buy furniture, they favor big-box retailers like Ashley Furniture over the build-it-yourself wares of Ikea.
For this author, assembling one Ikea bookcase is more than enough for a lifetime.