Sweden-based furniture retailer Ikea is considering opening standalone restaurants in city centers, Fast Company recently reported. Despite specializing in furniture, Ikea stores that dish out Swedish specialties such as meatballs, smoked salmon and lingonberry juice have become a key reason customers visit the superstores. Ikea notes that 30 percent of its store customers are there just for the food. The magazine reported that Ikea did $1.5 billion in food sales in 2013 alone. What’s more, the furniture giant sells more than 1 billion meatballs every year — that's equal to 2.9 million a day. Over the past two years, Ikea has launched pop-up eateries in London, Paris, Oslo and Toronto.
Total Retail's Take: The idea of Ikea opening standalone restaurants seems odd at first blush. After all, isn’t the only reason Ikea sells food is to get people into the store to buy its special brand of do-it-yourself furniture? However, cafés or restaurants can be opened with just a few hundred square feet of space, unlike the large warehouses the company is used to buying to house its furniture. Also, while traditional retail stores have been on a downward trajectory as of late, Ikea has been seeing positive results from its food sales. Therefore, it's looking to expand on an opportunity it sees within its own business. Ikea issued a statement Wednesday night saying no decisions have been made on the retailer's future with restaurants, so don't make your reservations just yet.