“We’ve hit peak curtains:” Even IKEA thinks everyone’s bought enough useless stuff

Can we fit in one more couch?
Can we fit in one more couch?
Image: Reuters/China Daily
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Western consumers have reached their limits for “buying stuff.” That verdict comes from an unlikely place: IKEA, the Swedish furniture goliath. Speaking at The Guardian’s Sustainable Business debate, Steve Howard, IKEA’s head of sustainability, said:

In the West, we have probably hit peak stuff. We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff … peak home furnishings.

IKEA may have a point: sales for furniture and lighting are at their highest since the financial crisis. With oil now cheaper than an actual barrel, is home furniture the next tipping point?

Either way, Howard doesn’t seem to be too startled by what he refers to as “peak curtains.” He suggests that on a global basis “most people are still poor and most people actually haven’t got to sufficiency yet. There is a global growth opportunity… but it’s a distribution issue.”

IKEA has reported an annual net profit of $3.5 billion last month, an increase of 5.5% on the previous year, as the company ventured into new territory. To stick to their plan to almost double their sales by 2020, IKEA says it will try to adapt to changing consumer preferences and focus more sustainable products. “We will be increasingly building a circular IKEA where you can repair and recycle products,” Howard said.

IKEA is not just focused on selling flat pack furniture; it’s also quite serious about going green. The company pledged to invest $1.1 billion in renewable energy while also taking concrete steps to help poor nations cope with climate change.

So what comes after peak curtains? Peak peak, of course.