Prof: IKEAs Are Designed Like Pac-Man Mazes To Trick You Into Spending More

If you’ve ever strolled through IKEA, you’ve probably gotten the sense that you were in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory — enjoying yourself well enough and fascinated by the sights, but clueless as to how to get the hell out of there.

The Daily Mail interviews a British professor who opines that the labyrinthine design is meant to give you the sense of feeling lost in order to get you to spend more time in the store, thus causing you to buy more stuff.

The professor says:

“You’re directed through their marketplace area where a staggering amount of purchases are impulse buys, things like lightbulbs or a cheap casserole that you weren’t planning on getting.

“Here the trick is that because the lay-out is so confusing you know you won’t be able to go back and get it later, so you pop it in your trolley as you go past.”

If you manage to make it through IKEA without spending money, what do you do to win these Swedish mind games?

Why shoppers find it so hard to escape from Ikea: Flatpack furniture stores are ‘designed just like a maze’ [The Dauly Mail via Newsvine]

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  1. suburbancowboy says:

    I get out without spending money, because I get so pissed off at all of the people standing in my way mindlessly with those stupid carts that are almost impossible to push straight because all 4 wheels pivot, that I just march out. (and there are shortcuts through the maze).

    • mattarse says:

      It’s a really minor thing, but since I moved to Europe I have found the trolley wheels to be one of the biggest annoyances! No where that I’ve been has locked back wheels and I have yet to figure out why.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        When you have several carts together in a chain, it’s more difficult to maneuver them if they have fixed rear wheels, and easier if they all swivel. European stores tend to have less open space to make a big arc of a turn like I see cartboys doing at US stores. It also seemed that Italian stores were laid out more tightly than suburban American ones… I suppose grocery stores in NYC may be the same way. A more nimble cart is useful for that.

        • mattarse says:

          Aha 5 years here and one of my first jobs was a cart pusher at a Wal Mart a long time ago and that never occurred to me :) Thanks for solving the mystery – and you are right about the space limitations, although there are big stores on the outskirts of cities that rival most in the US, the majority are either smaller or multileveled.

    • 339point4 says:

      Really? The four pivoting wheels on IKEA carts are one of the few things I really like about that store. I wish everyone had them.

      It seems like if you’re going to build a store like a lab-rat maze, it would behoove you to design a cart that can pivot like a Dyson Ball.

    • Chmeeee says:

      I love the 4-wheel steering carts because I can drift them around the corner like a race car. Plus, it’s especially entertaining to set the cart spinning and keep walking behind it.

      Yes, I am easily amused.

      • Caswell says:

        +1

        Glad to know I’m not the only one that does that.

        • Platypi {Redacted} says:

          I am also a “Cart Drifter”, but I don’t only do it with the IKEA carts. I also like to do it with regular shopping carts for a bit more of a challenge! The older shoppers are shocked when I pass em on the inside corner and then drift out wide to block their way…

        • wutname1 says:

          add me to the list of cart spinners, my 2 year old finds it as amusing as me!

      • VOIDMunashii says:

        Yes, I love the fact that you can spin IKEA carts. I wish more places had carts like that. I hate the noise normal carts make when you skid them around a curve.

      • IR1 says:

        +1, its probably the only redeeming thing about Ikea is the carts. I just walk around and spin the cart and catch it in stride, like a lot, until my wife gets annoyed enough to tell me to stop. Then I just do it more.

    • spinrod says:

      i also like to ghost ride the whip (cart)

  2. kingofmars says:

    The first couple of times I went though IKEA I saw some things I was interested in, but decided to wait until I was though the whole store before deciding if I really wanted it. At the end I figured I really did want a thïngy, but going back and finding it was a pain. Now whe I go though I hang onto whatever it is I think I might buy. You wïn Ikea!

    • Eyeheartpie says:

      If I see something I might want to buy, I pop it into the cart, and then when I get to the warehouse section, I go through the cart and seriously think about whether I need that widget or doohickey. Usually able to cut a bunch of stuff out of my cart before I get to the registers.

    • DesmondNavroz says:

      I too grab what what I think I might want so I don’t have to go back and then I dump half (or more) of that out of my cart while heading up to the check out line.

  3. CrankyOwl says:

    Aarggh. I’m afraid to go back to IKEA since I got lost in the maze last time I was there. How do they manage to pass fire inspections since exit signs are supposed to be posted where they’re clearly visible?

    • OSAM says:

      Emergency exit signs have always been clearly visible, and the maze isn’t really a maze but a very linear pathway. It just happens to be drawn on an etch-a-sketch. If you do it properly, the “corridor” only goes on way and leads you right out. Keep an eagle-eye open for the shortcuts as well (from one department to another), and grab a map when you walk in to see what sections are where and if you can shortcut your way through.

  4. Coles_Law says:

    Just bring a power pellet-you’ll clear the maze in no time!

  5. Scribblenerd says:

    I went to IKEA exactly once with my husband, who was diabetic. He had a hypoglycemic episode and almost fainted before we found our way to the food area. The experience shook me and I have never been back. Heaven forbid there’s a fire!

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      Sorry about your husband having an issue and all that, but I can hardly blame Ikea for that. I mean, Wal-Mart is gigantic as well, do you refuse to go back there as well? What about a really big parking lot?

      • dangerp says:

        The difference is that you can walk in one direction to get to the exit. In Ikea, you may have to find a minimum of four “shortcuts”, all seeming to lead in different directions, while stopping to find a map somewhere just to make sure you aren’t backtracking.

        We make heavy use of the shortcuts, but we still often find ourselves going backwards when we thought we were making progress.

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          I’ve honestly never found it to be that confusing. We brought some friends to Ikea for the first time and they were pretty overwhelmed, but they didn’t get lost, either. It was pretty clear how you get out if you need to. The entire path is a loop with exits at the beginning and end.

          • dangerp says:

            I agree you pretty much can’t get lost when following the path, as everything is linear. Sometimes though, when you come out of a shortcut it isn’t readily obvious which way is forward.

      • Scribblenerd says:

        I have never been to Wal-Mart.

    • nffcnnr says:

      So it’s Ikea’s fault that you don’t carry around crackers for such hypoglycemic episodes?

    • tbiscuit360 says:

      You then proceed to one of the many areas marked ‘Exit’ which are scattered throughout the store.

      Yes it is a store that is designed for one way traffic, but they have many exits solely for fire escape.

    • RedOryx says:

      I’m sorry that happened to your husband, but how is that IKEA’s fault? Sounds more like a lack of planning on yours.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      Never, ever go hiking.

    • aloria says:

      I had a hypoglycemic attack in IKEA, too, but because I am prone to such things, I carry little snickers bars and glucose tabs around. Perhaps you should do the same?

  6. coffeeculture says:

    I don’t find it that difficult…maybe the first time, yes. After a while you figure out a) the shortcuts, b) how to look items up online and go straight to its bin downstairs, c) whether or not you can skip the showroom and go right to lighting/etc…

  7. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    So in other words, the exact same reason why shopping malls do everything they can to detach you from the outside world and make you oblivious to the passage of time.

  8. 339point4 says:

    Is there a tag for “Duh”?

  9. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    I’ve never been in an Ikea, but is this all that different than supermarkets setting things up so you have to go past all the junk to get milk, and also putting things in illogical places so you have to go somewhere else to look? For example, I would expect to find canned mushrooms in the canned vegetables, but they stock them next to the pasta and sauce – so now I’ve gone down the canned goods AND the pasta rows, and probably bought something I didn’t come for in the process.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      One of my local grocery stores has a type of endcap that includes small shelves on the side of the endcap. Sometimes the employees forget to mark the products on those shelves as sale items so if you need to be sure that the bag of Doritos you’re picking up really is on sale, you need to trek down the chips aisle to check the sale tag. I suspect it’s partially about forgetfulness and mostly to make you wander down the chips aisle.

    • amadaden says:

      Very different. Super markets are rows of stuff. IKEA is layed out in a long winding path. There are so many turns that you can’t tell what way you are going. You can’t get lost even though you feel lost because as long as you follow the arrows on the very obvious path you will make it out. As many commenter said it’s confusing the first few times but after that you get the hang of it and can use the short cuts it’s easy and fun. The comparison to Willy Wonka in the article is very accurate.

      Finding stuff is not that bad since everything at IKEA is either fairly big or in multiple places. If you can’t find something there are computers to look stuff up at and the people are more then happy to help (they are however a bit hard to find sometimes).

      If you ever get the chance to go I recommend it just because it’s interesting and I recommend the meatballs because they are (at least to me and most people I know) awesome. But to each his(or her) own

      • AnthonyC says:

        Also, every Ikea pretty much has the sections in the same order. Kitchen stuff at the beginning, lamps and plants at the end, that sort of thing. In the past 3 years I’ve furnished 2 apartments, making use of 3 different Ikeas. At this point I know their whole inventory, and can do things with a hex wrench you never imagined possible. :)

    • Ted3 says:

      Nope..It’s like a maze once you try to get out. top by your local ikea and see what I mean.

  10. LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

    So in other words, IKEA took lessons from the Vegas casinos?

  11. sirwired says:

    Errr… this is striking me as demonstrating true mastery of the obvious. However, to Ikea’s credit, the last time I went to one, there were frequent well-marked “shortcut” arrows that showed you the most direct route to the checkout.

    • dangerp says:

      True, but you have to go through nearly a dozen “shortcuts” to find the shortest path to the checkout, and the shortcuts are situated such that you still have to walk through nearly every department.

      • claytons says:

        One in the showroom, at most two in the marketplace. If this is overwhelming, the overwhelmed should stick to the internet shopping.

  12. ThatsWhatSheSaid says:

    i wind through the maze and then get some delicious swedish meatballs…yum

  13. GrayMatter says:

    And in other news: Grocery Stores place the staples at the far end of the store, and separated from each other so you walk past all the tempting things you did not want/need!

    (And, besides, IKEA is fun to look at.)

    • tbax929 says:

      My local grocery store – a Fry’s – has an endcap when you first walk in with staples (bread, milk, butter, eggs, etc.) on it. It’s great for when you don’t want to maneuver to the back of the store – where most of them are – in order to pick up one of them quickly. Great idea.

  14. The Upright Man says:

    This is something all retailers do to some degree, isn’t it?

    I think I read somewhere that there’s a whole industry dedicated to store layouts as they relate to how long people stay in stores/how much money they spend.

    • vastrightwing says:

      The easiest way would be to randomly stock items like ketchup next to toothpaste, next to flour next to cereal, etc. And don’t group similar types of food together, in other words, don’t put Heinze ketchup next to Huntz ketchup. This way, you will have to literally scan the entire store many times over in order to find what you’re looking for. In fact, I’ll take it to the next level: simply take all your inventory, pour it on the floor and randomly place every item in a different spot. this way, if you need 2 bottles of Heinze ketchup, you’ll have to search the whole store twice in order to find them. I’m going to patent this idea right now!

    • chaelyc says:

      It’s true – not only that but there are volumes of theory on the best way to stock shelves so people will buy the most expensive name-brand items because those are the ones placed at eye-level. If you’re really trying to save money on groceries without doing math or anything like that try shopping 1 shelf higher or 2 shelves lower than the one that’s right in front of your face.

  15. phira says:

    I’ve been the local IKEA several times; I’m a “young professional,” and my friends and I got a lot of furniture from there, and from Craig’s List. I know the layout well enough to know where the shortcuts are, and where I’m going.

    I *don’t* avoid spending money at IKEA because I actually have a magic rule that prevents me from wasting money there: I’m not allowed to go unless I need something. And a second magic rule prevents me from spending (too much) more than I planned: I have to make a list of what I need before I go.

    The first rule sounds pretty duh, but it’s not when friends ask you for rides or for company. And the second rule also sounds pretty duh if you’ve never been to IKEA. While I respect that many people are great at seeing through IKEA’s tricks, and many people are excellent at avoiding impulse buys, I’m one of the many, many people who walks into IKEA and goes, “OH, I need that!! I need five of them!” So I make a list. I’m allowed to deviate from the list, but only if it’s something like, “You know what? I’m sick of having to use mugs for juice. I’m going to buy some regular glasses.”

    But then again, my friends and I tend to get stuck in the kiddie section, going, “We need this stuffed animal!”

  16. lehrdude says:

    The best way not to spend money is to check your kids in to the playroom. They only keep your kids for 45 minutes, so when the little pager goes off 1/4 of the way through the market place, and you finally find your way back to get your kids, the only thing you can think of doing at that point is leaving…

  17. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Casinos are built so that you cannot easily see a exit until you are right on it, and have no clocks.

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      It can’t possibly be true. A college professor hasn’t said it!

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      The worst casinos for confusion are in Wendover, NV, on the UT/ID border. The Rainbow is the worst – like a funhouse. Where there isn’t a mirror, there’s neon. I’m surprised I didn’t run into myself…

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      All the mall anchor stores do that too.

    • AlphaLackey says:

      If you feel lost in a casino, look for the sucker games and/or the “Party Pit” (i.e. it will be the section that has some of the aforementioned sucker games, along with the dancing poles / stages / cages / mirror balls etc. commonly associated with Party Pits) — these tend to be near the main entrance, while the traditional low-vig games (craps, baccarat, pai-gow poker, full-pay blackjack) tend to be buried deeper inside the casino.

  18. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    It doesn’t take a college professor to tell you this.

  19. JamesBenjamin says:

    Grocery stores were set up like that back in the ’40s, this is a known thing. Man, if that’s all it takes to be a professor in Britain, I need to move across the pond!

  20. goodfellow_puck says:

    The closest IKEA to me is 4 hrs away. If I’m going, I do my research online and make a list. I also always re-evaluate the stuff I have in my cart before checkout. I’m not afraid to hand things over to the staff and tell them I changed my mind.

  21. cspschofield says:

    Is there anybody clued-in enough to be reading Consumerist who considers this a new thought?

    My experience as a consumer is that all stores above a certain size do this. Don’t even get me started on Big Box stores! At least Ikea doesn’t deliberately abandon all efforts at sound damping, to bludgeon your ears until you’re a zombie (I’m looking at YOU Best Buys!).

    • UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

      Better yet, is there a human being who can’t figure this out?

      Not just a Consumerist-level human being. A human being.

      OMG PEER REVIEWED IT MUST BE TRUE.

  22. gparlett says:

    Prof. Smartypants is absolutely right that you’ll never be able to go back and find that thing that interested you again, so if anything catches my eye it goes into the cart. I just remember to do a massive purge right before I check out. I usually dump at least half of the contents of my cart.

  23. Caswell says:

    I usually keep one of their catalogs at home. When I actually go to the store, it’s to purchase something that I’ve already committed to buying after looking in the catalog. If anything, I find myself purchasing less than I expected, as an item looks nice in the catalog but in reality is trash (i.e. most of their couches).

    Perhaps it’s also that I appreciate decent cookware (I have mid-range Calphalon pots and pans, Zwilling J.A. Henckels cutlery) that I don’t get caught up with the impulse buys – 99% of them seem to be cheap, throwaway cookware.

  24. leprechaunshawn says:

    Wait, what? A store is set up in a way that encourages you to spend more money? Did it really take a professor to figure this out?

  25. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    The last time I was there I bought 5 KLOSBUT couches and 6 SVETMUCH beds that I didn’t want. Damned layout! I consoled myself with meatballs and lingonberries.

  26. snarkymarcy says:

    I agree with using the play area, if you have kids. (However, the one in Woodbridge, VA is only 30 minutes…we go to College Park to get an hour. You can barely do the showroom in 30 minutes.) If we take too long in the showroom, herding my five year old through is enough to keep me from sauntering the marketplace for too long.

    After downsizing our living space considerably a year ago, we changed our relationship with “stuff.” We look at the thneed and ask, “Do we really need this?” It doesn’t work for everyone, but it works for us.

    About the exits, they are there. If there was ever an emergency, I’m confident that the yellow shirts are instructed to hit their zones and corral us to the exits.

  27. Ted3 says:

    Nothing new..IKEAS are hell to get out of, lol.

  28. ClaudeKabobbing says:

    This is a surprise? Everything about retail stores is designed o get you to spend more.

  29. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    Since IKEA is a 90 minute drive each way, I don’t go unless I plan on spending money. I have my self-imposed limits, and unless I know for sure that I want to buy something like a Billy, I don’t take a large vehicle. I have no problem using the shortcuts to move around through both the showroom and marketplace. And plus 1 billion for the shopping carts.

  30. JMH says:

    I actually went to my local Ikea this past weekend and managed to get out without making a single impulse purchase. I was pretty astonished.

  31. mocena says:

    Why would you go to IKEA without the intention to buy things? It isn’t like you’re talking about a place that has a purpose other than encouraging purchases. I like IKEA because no matter how much little crap I pick up along the way, I always spend less than I think I will.

  32. RedOryx says:

    I’ve been to several different IKEAs over the year and have never had a problem finding my way out. Despite the “maze” like set up, I’ve always found IKEAs to be incredibly well marked. With shortcut signs and arrows on the floor pointing you in which directions to go.

    But it’s not like I haven’t spent time wandering around department stores trying to figure out where the exit is. I’m pretty sure this is the design plan of all stores, IKEA just took it a step up.

  33. Buckus says:

    Retailers use all sorts of tricks to get you to spend more in their store. This is nothing new. Restaurants use all sort sof tricks to get you to spend less time in their joint. Again, not new.

  34. semidazed says:

    I’ve for a company in High Point, NC during their much touted Furniture Market (where major retailers come to buy for their stores) and all of the galleries were set up in a manner similar to Ikea.

    There is a path that you can follow that takes you through all of the painstakingly staged and lit rooms. At the end, there are brochures of for stuff that they could buy. I’d assumed that Ikea was just following that model and it is nice to see all of the items in action.

  35. KingTaco says:

    Wow! My mind is blown! Next you’ll tell me that commercials are designed to sell stuff, too!

  36. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    No duh! I think the secret shortcuts are roped off and for in case of emergency only at our local IKEA. It’s hell when one of the kids have to use the restroom! One of the checkers abused my wife last time she went, and that was the LAST time. My wife bought a bunch of furniture but the checker told her to go back into the store and load it herself (she refused to call for someone to help load it). My wife objected she physically can’t get it down from the shelf. The checker then called security on my tiny Asian wife. (we think the checker was being racist)

  37. Talisker says:

    IKEA helps me understand why the suicide rate in Scandinavia is so high.

  38. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    People who can’t navigate around Ikea need to pick up the maps they provide at the beginning. plus there are signs to help you get to the exit faster via cutthroughs. Having gone to Ikea numerous times for specific things and only those specific things, its not that hard.

  39. caradrake says:

    My husband and I like going to IKEA just because it gives us a chance to walk around. We look at things, and will occasionally spend money, but it’s fun just go to and look at everything. And they are really great opportunities to look at their setups and layouts and get ideas for use in our own apartment.

    And I realized while reading this article that my son is now eligible for their kid’s playarea, so I foresee many IKEA trips in our future! So glad it’s only 30 minutes away. :)

  40. Ben Popken says:

    That may be true, but savvy IKEA shoppers know about the semi-secret shortcuts that cut through various sections, allowing you to take a less circuitous route. Just look for the blue signs off the main path that point through these doorways that indicate the next area.

  41. johnrhoward says:

    If you’re confused by the layout at IKEA to such an extent that you buy more stuff because you think you won’t be able to find it again, then you’re an idiot and you deserve to be taken advanntage of.

  42. Brie says:

    When my kids were little I put them in the in-store child care. At that time years ago, the child-care time allotment was something ridiculously low, like 45 or 50 minutes. So enough time to me to race solo through the store and grab the flatpack I came for, maybe three impulse items, and pay, and then get back to the child-care area. Thus it was thanks, IKEA for keeping me from spending too much money!

  43. Berrygirl says:

    When I have to run in for something, I either take a left and go in through the checkout, to get right to the area I need to get to, or I use the shortcuts that are labeled throughout the store.

    My first time there, I went in for 1 thing, and left after spending 200.00

    The last time I went there, I went in through the out door, and bought the 1 item I was there for. Easy Peasy :)

  44. Youngfrankenstein says:

    I thought all stores were like this….designed to make you buy.

  45. SlyPhox says:

    I personally don’t have a problem navigating IKEA. Pickup the map, and learn the shortcuts. I fall victim to the cheap impulse buys that are pretty hard to pass up. $3.99 for 8 wooden hangers, why the hell not. $7.99 for a table?! You would be a fool not to buy one. Buy one for each of your cats.

    My only complaint is they don’t have bathrooms midway through the store. Why must I sprint back to the cafeteria to use the restroom is beyond me especially considering how big the store is. Unless I’m just somehow missing a bathroom halfway through the top floor.

    Also, they should have a “Sorry, but it didn’t work out” bin at the checkout line for the small stuff you pickup in the inspiration area or the market place rather than just leaving the crap hidden which in turn, makes it harder for the employees to find their go back items.

    Finally, go during the week! When I was moving into my apartment and picking out my furniture, being able to go on a Tuesday was one of my most enjoyable IKEA experiences. There aren’t hundreds of people blocking the isles oblivious to everything around them. The staff will actually have time to spend with you which will help finding what you’re actually looking for. Plus, you get to partake in the awesome .99 cent breakfast if you get there early enough.

    • El-Brucio says:

      They probably tried out the “sorry it didn’t work out” bin and found that it decreased sales by giving consumers an extra chance to back out.

      • SlyPhox says:

        Eh, probably. I think they may bank on the bring it back offer so people lul into the security of buying it with the option to bring it back which 99% of the time they dont.. I bought one too many packs of hangers the last time I went. Am I going to go back to get my $3.99 back? Hell no. I’ll probably end up spending more on other crap I want.

  46. llcooljabe says:

    I hope this prof wasn’t paid for this conclusion. I was 6 years old when I figured this out.

  47. jenjenjen says:

    I never even go upstairs in my Ikea anymore, now that I’m not looking for furniture. I go in through the out door, past the cashiers, past the warehouse and into that magical place called Marketplace. Land of linens, kitchen goodies, picture frames and doodads. Gotta give a big plug for Ikea’s 365 knives – amazingly cheap compared to similar quality brand name knives. Don’t be put off by the plastic handles – they are awesome.

  48. dourdan says:

    when my parents drag me and my husband there (it’s inside an even better shopping center)- we follow the arrows to the exit the break in to a run when e can see the finish line (cash registers that mark the final exit.)

  49. Pat says:

    I love Ikea, and the wonderful thing about it is that they don’t move their departments around like grocery stores do. Once you get used to the maze, you can go there for a cheap meal (and really good, too) and bring the grandkids. It’s better than an amusement park – lots of stuff to play with, lots of colors, and no charge. Plus the kids love Ikea’s mac and cheese.

  50. isileth says:

    I went once to an IKEA shop and it was a maze, not to mention that it was warm as a furnace.
    It had a nice map that didn’t show “you are here” and that was like a circuit, so it was nearly impossible to understand where to go, since the “bath” section doesn’t look like it at all.
    I never went back, because I didn’t like the feeling of being a mouse.

  51. Zydia says:

    I can get through Ikea just fine by asking myself if this cool such and such will turn into added clutter at home in a few weeks/months. It’s not hard to enjoy the novetly for what it is right there and move on.

  52. ladywriter says:

    there is a short cut that eliminates about 1/3 of the store. It is clearly marked in stores that I have visited.
    Also there is an excellent book named: Great Ikea. I think it’s out of print but still available last time I looked around. The book explains about the store layout and short cut

  53. Rebecca K-S says:

    IKEA doesn’t have stuff I want, generally, so it’s easy for me to get out without spending money.

  54. krom says:

    Look up. See the sign to the checkouts? No? You’re an idiot, please go to Wal-Mart. NPFTS.

  55. Beeker26 says:

    I avoid stores that sell furniture I have to put together when I get home.

  56. pfepher says:

    My trick: 2 carts. I use 1 for all the stuff I know I will want and 1 for the impulse items. Before the register I look at the impulse cart and add the things I truly want to the other cart. I then leave the remaining cart and its content where it is. Hey, Ikea created the situation where I need 2 carts; let them deal with the unshopping.

  57. El-Brucio says:

    They have enough shortcuts that I don’t think it’s designed to make you grab something out of fear of not being able to go back for it – but I do think it’s designed to force the new customers to look at *everything* the store has to offer and old customers to see if there is anything new. Which I suppose could be enjoyable if you are the sort of person who goes shopping for the sake of shopping.

    The first couple of times I shopped there it was almost like an adventure. Then in quickly became a chore. Now I just don’t shop there unless I have to.

  58. The Marionette says:

    I never get this theories that a store’s setup will make you spend more (i believe there was an article about costco’s setup too). Generally I only go to a store to get something specific, then leave. If someone’s there to just browse and shop, then i think the store’s setup has little to do with their decision since more than likely they’ll end up finding something to buy regardless how the store’s set up. I’ve been to an ikea store a few times and never got any urge to spend more money.

  59. 451.6 says:

    Am I the only one who takes advantage of that handy-dandy shopping list function on their website? I pick out the things that I want from the comfort of my home and I can walk around the showrooms pretending to be Swedish in peace. There are some impulse purchases but after I take into account the things I hated when I saw them in person, it evens out.

    The rat maze is obnoxious, though. I never realized how difficult it is to escape until my sister asked me to bring home some meatballs and I couldn’t get outside without going through the warehouse. Normally, my friends and I go to Ikea and make a day of it. You should go to Ikea in groups for defensive purposes. I’m always exhausted when I go by myself.

  60. Gizmosmonster says:

    My husband gets overwhelmed and starts to fall apart halfway through Ikea’s maze. If I don’t plan a trip out just right- they lose a lot of our money.

  61. Kernel32 says:

    Every time my wife and I venture into IKEA, I always marvel that we’re able to navigate the IKEA Trail without getting attacked by a wild animal or catching dysentery and dying.

    For fun sometime, try going through the store backwards. It annoys the hipsters to no end!

  62. Jane_Gage says:

    Particle board propped up on metal poles and rugs with mod circles isn’t really my taste.

  63. lettucefactory says:

    IKEA is my #1 store for Planning To Spend A Lot Of Money But Walking Out With Nothing Because I’m So Fucking Overwhelmed.

  64. veg-o-matic says:

    I got out without buying anything because it was ØVËRWHELMÏNG.

    There is such a thing as “too many choices.” Unless I know exactly what I’m going in for and know they have it, shopping at IKEA is useless and frustrating.

  65. halo969 says:

    How do you get lost in an IKEA? There are arrows on the floor.

  66. Zelgadis says:

    This is precisely why I hate Ikea. I like their stuff, but I loathe the store. That’s why, every time I need something there, I find what I want online, go there, get it, and get out. I don’t look at anything else. I make a bee-line through the shortcuts.

  67. b612markt says:

    This is true for the ‘old’ Ikea stores like in Schaumburg, but the new ones with the Marketplace like in Bolingbrook are wonderfully laid out and are not as maze-like as the old ones.

  68. Serenefengshui says:

    I always do a final check before paying and go through my whole cart. Usually, at least 1/3 of the contents go into the “go-backs” bin.

    Still, love IKEA. Meatballs! Lingonberrysaft!

  69. gman863 says:

    Come to think of it, I had a feeling Evil Otto was tailing me last time I was in there.

    I feel much better knowing I wasn’t being paranoid about this.

  70. claytons says:

    First off, the layout is not *that* confusing. If you’ve never been to an IKEA before or are 3 feet tall, sue, I could see a bit of confusion, but there’s not much of an excuse if you’ve done the cattle drive before.

    Second, it took a professor to tell us these things??

  71. prismatist says:

    This is news? When I go to Ikea, I select what I want on the website first. Then I go in through the out door, thus taking me directly to the warehouse area where you actually get stuff. On the rare occasions that I need to browse and/or see the item in the flesh (how demanding IS a Billy book-case, really?) I go to the showroom, look at the map and find the shortcuts. They are labelled, but poorly.

  72. Jimmy37 says:

    Wow, what an insight! NOT!

    The more time in the store, the more likely you buy something, anything. Grocery stores have been doing that for years. Staples in the back to make you walk through the store. Impulse items on the end caps. Impulse items at the checkout counters while you wait.

  73. snowmentality says:

    A little bit past the cafeteria, my shopping partner(s) and I always start snapping at each other and arguing over petty things, because we’re exhausted and overwhelmed. So we always rush through the entire part with the impulse buys, trying to get to the warehouse area and check out before we end up screaming at each other. Rat maze backfire.

  74. twerp says:

    painted lines on floor….follow them.

    most of you sound like the infomercial actors who can’t crack an egg without tearing down a wall first.