The Southampton Ikea store - is it an asset or liability to Southampton?

(Please note: the owner of this website not only has no connection whatsoever with Ikea, she has never even set foot in one of their stores! )

IKEA opened a store on West Quay Road in the Southampton City Centre on February 12, 2009. Area residents expressed concerns about the opening of the Southampton IKEA store. Is it an asset or liability to Southampton?

One major concern noted by Southampton residents was the likelihood that the store would increase traffic in the area. IKEA worked with the city government to lessen the impact of additional traffic in the city. IKEA agreed to contribute money yearly for traffic improvements in Southampton. Two roads that intersected with West Quay Road, Harbour Parade and Southern Road, were widened at their junctions with West Quay Road. The IKEA car park was put on top of the store. Drivers waiting to get into this car park are able to wait on the IKEA property instead of out on the road. Entrance lanes were constructed on West Quay Road for access to the IKEA property. The store is open from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on weekdays. The opening and closing times do not coincide with rush hour traffic in the area.

It was expected that the IKEA store would benefit Southampton in some ways. The Southampton City Council believed that the opening of the IKEA store would bring additional shoppers to shopping centres close the store. More than 100,000 people visited IKEA during the first five days after the store opened. IKEA estimated that two million people would visit the Southampton store every year. It was believed that IKEA would bring more jobs to the region. The store provided nearly 500 jobs for area residents. Southampton residents who had formerly travelled out of town to shop at the nearest IKEA would now shop in Southampton.

IKEA customarily supports local charities. The Southampton store supported Emmaus Hampshire. Emmaus UK Federation provides a place for homeless people to live and trains them for jobs.

There are some occasional traffic problems in the area due to IKEA. The increased number of people shopping in the area and IKEA’s charitable contributions outweigh these problems. The IKEA store seems to be more of an asset than a liability to Southampton.

Copyright Pamela Ross 2010