The Age Most People Stop Buying IKEA Furniture


IKEA furniture is a ubiquitous feature of the 20-something’s apartment. But at some point, IKEA furniture tends to get replaced with furniture from more upscale, “adult” stores—but when? Earnest, a student loan startup, put together some data on when people age out of their IKEA shopping habits, and found that it happens at about 34 years old, per Popular Mechanics.

Earnest's data comes from tens of thousands of loan applicants who responded to their survey. The company compared the ages of people who turn first to IKEA for their furniture needs to those who go to Lowe’s, Crate & Barrel, and other stores. IKEA is the only store whose peak customer age is below 30, according to Earnest, while people in their 30s tend to go to Bed Bath & Beyond and Williams-Sonoma, though that doesn’t mean they’re not still sitting on their IKEA couch. And most people who are more than 40 years old go to hardware/home improvement stores like Home Depot or Lowes.

But what the Earnest analysis is missing is that people’s preferences don’t just change because they’re getting older; as age increases, so does purchasing power in most households. Consider this graph on median household income by age in the United States, drawn from data from a 2015 Census report. It’s no surprise that people make a lot more money at age 35 than they do at 25. So not only might they be tired of the standard Scandinavian aesthetic, they might also not worry quite as much about dropping $1200 on a new couch.

Household Income by Age

The Motley Fool

There are currently four boxes of yet-to-be-built IKEA furniture in my apartment, because I am 26 years old and have a paycheck that reflects that (not to mention I don’t live in a two-income household). I love mass-produced Swedish flat-pack design, but more importantly, looking at furniture from other stores gives me heart palpitations—I certainly can’t afford to shop at CB2, despite the fact that it calls itself “affordable.” Until my income doubles, I'll probably be enjoying my MALM-themed bedroom. At least it appears that I'm not the only one in that situation.

[h/t Popular Mechanics]

Banner image courtesy of iStock; all other images courtesy of Earnest unless otherwise noted.