Firstly, can we ignore the myth that everyone will drive to the new Greenwich Ikea. A ton of people will – and the roads could well become gridlock – but that doesn’t mean a sizable number of people won’t walk or take public transport.
We know from studies of other London Ikeas that large numbers do use public transport to reach stores – and those were in areas of lower density and population.
We also know Ikea is not like furniture stores such as B&Q – and attracts many people who have no intention of large furniture purchases. It has a “lifestyle” attraction though marketing and diversified stores offerings such as food and very cheap homeware.
And then we have car ownership in London falling off a cliff amongst younger people.
Across the UK, the number of 17-20 year olds with a driving license between 1992 and 1994 with was 48% and 75% of 21 to 29 year olds.
By 2014, 48% had dropped to 29% of 17 to 20 year olds and 75% had reduced to 63% of 21 to 29 year olds. It’s even less in London.
Take the train…or not
With that in mind, and knowing rail is a popular method of transport in cities, why is Southeastern so poor at advertising the new Ikea very close to its Greenwich line?
It has not tweeted once to it’s 228k followers that the Ikea is five to ten minutes from Westcombe Park station.
Some people from Plumstead, or Erith would take a train in 15 minutes to the store (and others) if advertised well.
And it’s so much closer than the Jubilee Line.
Now I walked the route between the station and store and know it’s far from good. But many will be unaware and would likely give it a go.
Perhaps it’s for the best given how poor the walk is, though if the rail operator pressured Greenwich Council maybe things would have happened. But in the franchise system, where contracts are extended by weeks or months regularly, why would they?
And if/when improvements do occur will the franchised operator promote it?
I’ve always found it interesting how private franchises are so often poor at advertising attractions. One argument for privatisation was an apparent commercial nous which often seems absent.
For a flagship “sustainable” store it can often seem everyone is conspiring to make Ikea unsustainable on a wider level.
TfL are cutting bus route frequencies serving the store. Greenwich Council have not installed even the full, yet modest, number of road crossings planned before opening or done very much to improve pedestrian links and Southeastern do not promote the nearby rail line and store.
You’d think someone would have liaised on this given the very high profile and controversial nature of the scheme. It’s been known about for many years.
So, in the car then?