19 Ikea Shopping Secrets Only Die-Hard Regulars Know
Never show up right when it opens.
Nearly 800 million shoppers visit Ikea stores every year to fight the crowds, wend their way through the stores’ notoriously circuitous layout, test out the massive array of sofas and chairs, and sample its famously tasty meatballs. But only a fraction of those customers are truly knowledgeable in the Swedish retailer’s most secretive ways.
For example: Do you know the best no-hassle time to show up at an Ikea store to shop? Do you know what a “yellow tag” means? And do you know how to score a “family” discount even if you’re a twentysomething single? Some truly savvy Ikea shoppers do.
If you want to know the answer to those questions and more, here are 20 Ikea shopping secrets that the smartest regulars use to make their trips a breeze.
Never shop at Ikea on a weekend.
Most people like to do their furniture and home decor shopping on the weekend. So if you want to avoid crowds, then you’d be better off making your Ikea trip on a weekday. Even better? On a weekday at exactly one hour after it opens.
Why wait an hour, you ask? Well, just like when a new Apple product launches and throngs of people descend upon the stores before they open, Ikea stores are prone to superfans who crowd at the entrance in the early morning hours. An hour will give you a good cushion of time to ensure that the opening-rush crowds have disappeared.
The product’s tag contains literally everything.
If a particular Ikea item catches your eye, pay close attention to its price tag. In addition to, you know, the price, you’ll find that it’s also equipped with a product’s size, color, material, measurements, features, and—most importantly—location in the warehouse. If you’ve never shopped at an Ikea before, that may sound odd. But the store is laid out in such a way that you can’t actually pick up many products to purchase until the very end of your journey—and so that location will come in handy.
The majority of the store is actually just displays where you can get an idea of how the furniture will look when assembled. As Janice Simonsen, Ikea’s U.S. design spokesperson, told once Domino: “The price tag at Ikea is your friend.” The savviest of Ikea shoppers never forget it.
Lost a screw? Go to the “Spare Parts” section.
Ikea diehards never sweat it when they lose a few parts during the assembly process. Since Ikea pretty much expects this to happen, the store has a special “Spare Parts” desk set up in the Returns/Exchanges area of the store where you can pick up the pieces you need. Here’s more good news: if you don’t feel like going to the store, you can also call up Ikea and ask them to send the spare parts right to your door.
The store offers a great moving discount.
Ikea experts always sign up for Ikea’s moving program before switching homes. Sure, it helps you stay on top of your packing by sending you emails with checklists and advice, but signing up also means you’ll receive a useful coupon for $25 off of any $250 Ikea purchase. Why turn away free savings?
You can score extra savings during every trip with Ikea Family.
There’s no reason not to sign up for an Ikea Family card. It’s free and easy, and once you’ve done so you’ll have access to exclusive deals and product discounts all year long. Despite the card’s name, you don’t even have to have a family to get a membership; single twentysomethings and new parents alike are encouraged to sign up!
Ikea Family unlocks major deals online.
Once your Ikea Family account is all set up, you can take a look at all the special sales being offered to subscribers either by going on Ikea’s website or by logging into your account and checking the Ikea Family page.
At the time of this writing, for instance, Ikea Family members can receive 15 percent off of any custom quartz countertop purchases, and up 10 percent off of certain snack and beverage buys. Not bad!
It’s best to pre-order whenever possible.
Yes, there is a way to shop at Ikea without actually showing up in person and navigating the maze-like retail space. When you shop Click & Collect online, you can have your local Ikea store gather all of your items together for an easy, convenient pickup—and for a paltry $5 fee. Oh, and when you pick your new goodies up, your $5 fee will be reimbursed in the form of a gift card. It’s a win-win!
Far too many Ikea shoppers forget that the store doesn’t give you any bags to take your new goodies home in. So if you want to save money, smart shoppers know to bring their own. If you forget, you run the risk of having to fork out an extra dough for some of Ikea’s blue bags.
Shop the As-Is section on Mondays.
The best day to scour the “As-Is” section, where returned and slightly damaged items are sold at a discount, is on Monday. Why? Since most people return their unwanted merchandise over the weekend, Monday is when you’re most likely to find the best selection of items.
Employees will help you assemble your stuff.
Ikea employees are happy to help you when you don’t understand how to assemble your new pieces. After all, it’s their job! “As of now I put together at least one big furniture piece a day,” wrote Reddit user Dallasguy321 during an AMA session he hosted about what it’s like to work at Ikea. “It’s a normal part of the day to just go down to the warehouse and start building in the middle of the sales floor with customers and everything.”
Or watch a detailed assembly video online!
If you find yourself at home struggling to construct your Ikea furniture, check the brand’s website to see whether an assembly video is available for the product you purchased.
Since Ikea understands that furniture assembly is frustrating, the brand took time to put instructional videos together for some of their most popular products, all of which you can find here.
Start your shopping trip at the store’s exit.
Why would you start at the exit and not at the entrance? Well, Ikea’s warehouse—where all of its actual stock is located—is usually right near the doorway for departure, and you might just save yourself some money by avoiding the garish displays and heading right for the products. (This is especially important if you’re prone to impulse buys!)
Look for yellow tags.
At Ikea, a yellow tag indicates that a product is on sale and that it’s your last chance to buy it. However, “the amount of the discount varies, and is set by the local store,” Janice Simonsen, an Ikea spokesperson, explained to Good Housekeeping. “The typical range is 15 percent to 50 percent off.”
Make your shopping list online before heading to the store.
One of the many useful features that Ikea’s website offers is “My Shopping Lists.” Basically, it’s a tool that allows you to make a comprehensive list of all the Ikea items you desire online that you can later take into the store and use to make your shopping experience either.
Unlike your typical handwritten list, any list made via the Ikea website will include everything from the full name of a product to its price.
Ask for a price adjustment.
If any item you buy at Ikea goes on sale within 90 days of your purchase, you can bring in your receipt to get the difference refunded to you.
Bring your kids on Tuesday for free food!
On Tuesdays at the Ikea Café, any purchase of an adult entrée comes with up to free kids’ meals. And if you’re signed up as an Ikea Family member, then you can also score other great freebies (on any day of the week), such as coffee, tea, and more.
And drop them off for free daycare.
Since Ikea understands that many of their customers are parents, all of their stores have a Småland—a “free supervised play area near the entrance” where parents can drop their kids off for up to an hour (or for up to 1.5 hours if they’re an Ikea Family member). Rest assured that customers leave their kids here all the time, and most folks only have great things to say about the gratuitous service.
Sign up for mobile sale alerts.
Frequent Ikea shoppers sign up for the store’s mobile alerts. With these alerts, you’ll never again have to wonder whether markdowns are happening at the store, as you’ll be updated every time there’s a sale!
Learn the store’s shortcuts.
“There are shortcuts all over the store,” Dallasguy321 explained during his Reddit AMA. “The creator of Ikea knew that the store would be overwhelming because we sell so many different things, so he did what customers think is the ‘maze.’ It’s not meant to be that at all. It is basically going to Walmart but instead of having a big open space where you just hope you find the department you’re looking for, the walls we put up are meant to make it so you never miss what you’re looking for.”
If you look carefully at any of the Ikea store maps, you’ll find that these shortcuts are marked on every floor! (Just look for the word “shortcut” marked on every floor of the map.) And for more secrets that will save you time and cash, don’t miss these 33 Genius Tips Only Pro Shoppers Know.
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