Retail Insider had the opportunity to tour the new downtown Toronto IKEA store that will open to the public next week on Wednesday, May 25. The store is unlike any other IKEA location in Canada, featuring natural light through ample windows and a product assortment catering to residents in nearby high-density neighbourhoods. Also on offer is an impressive food and beverage offering that will no doubt become popular with locals.
The 66,000 square foot store at the north-west corner of Yonge and Gerrard Streets was announced in March of 2021. The ‘IKEA Toronto Downtown – Aura’ store as it is called will be cashless (credit and debit cards can be used) and shoppers will be able to scan and pay for products using the IKEA app and bring them home or have them shipped, or consumers may use self-service points to purchase products. Smaller items can be taken home or ordered online for delivery, while larger items can be ordered online with an employee in the store. A representative said that one of the goals of IKEA was to bring “retail of the future” to the Toronto store.
Food and beverage will play an important role in the store. A ‘Swedish Deli’ has a mix of sit-down and grab-and-go options including frozen foods that can be brought home. Screens in the store provide an opportunity to order various dishes including meatballs, both real meat and vegan (the vegan option is only $5.49 for six veggie balls served with green lentils, curry sauce, shaved parmesan and arugula). Other items include hot dogs ($1), wraps (including egg salad, veggie and salmon), salads, cinnamon buns ($1.50 each), muffins ($1.50 each), vegan chocolate tortes, frozen yogurt, ice cream cones and sundaes among other items.
Prices are lower than other foodservice businesses in the area with coffee priced at $1 and premium espressos are $1.50 for small and $2 for a large size — the Deli area has its own entrance doors onto Gerrard Street and crowds are expected. The Swedish Deli will have its own business hours, being open earlier and later than the main store depending on business needs.
The store features multiple showrooms developed with locals in mind, including small model ‘apartments’ with items catering to condo dwellers. Various items are available to buy in the store and larger items can be ordered for delivery.
The two level store features a street level with tableware, a cook shop, kitchen items, a planning area for kitchen, checkouts and the Swedish Deli. Upstairs is a customer service area, items for the living room, storage, lighting, dining items, workspace items, home organization, kids items, and planning areas for bedroom and bathroom. Washrooms are also located upstairs. In the basement is an area for customers to pick up orders to bring home either by subway or car.
Included as well on the second floor are live plants (as well as a variety of artificial ones) at prices considerably lower than what one might pay at downtown retailers. IKEA will compete against a range of retailers in the downtown core on price as well as service.
IKEA partnered with Penguin Pickup which has 16 points in the downtown core. Customers can order items from the store to be picked up at one of Penguin Pickup’s locations. Larger items and those out of stock come from a warehouse in Mississauga.
IKEA’s own logistics had to be modified for the new store given the density of the downtown core compared to the suburbs.
During the tour we learned of IKEA’s Small Business Program which works to outfit offices and remote work stations. The downtown store features displays and showrooms showcasing work environments.
About half of the 160 employees in the new downtown store came from other IKEA locations in the area. Some of the employees who transferred to the new store already lived in downtown Toronto and said that they were happy to have the opportunity to walk to work.
Other urban concept IKEA stores are located in Paris, London, Queens NY and a location in San Francisco opens next year.
Interestingly, IKEA’s real estate arm Ingka owns much of the podium at Aura at College Park now, including the space above the store occupied by a Marshalls store as well as main floor space occupied by two financial institutions. Those tenants will remain according to an executive with Ingka.
Toronto’s newest IKEA is an impactful opening for the city’s downtown core which saw lower foot traffic and retail sales over the course of the pandemic. Locals will have reason to celebrate with a new store with affordable price-points and a compelling retail and food experience.
IKEA Toronto Downtown – Aura will be open from 10-9pm Monday-Sunday once fully operational next week.
See below for many more photos.
Related Retail Insider Articles
- IKEA Announces Toronto Downtown Store Opening Date
- IKEA Canada Continues National Expansion Strategy with Launch of First Planning Studio Concept in Quebec [Feature Interview]
- IKEA Canada Reports Strong Growth in Canada Despite Ongoing Pandemic: CFO Interview
Additional Photos from the Tour
The IKEA Downtown Toronto – Aura is an impressive store with many classic “IKEA” features along with additional “Urban Concept” designs. During our tour, we were able to explore the entire sales floor.
Our goal during this part of the article is to share the views that the customers would be able to see when they visit the store when it opens on May 25th, 2022.
The new IKEA will employ a number of check-out options, including the app “fast track” lines and team members with mobile check-out on tablets. The “cashless” environment will still allow for debit/credit transactions.
IKEA Family is the loyalty program within the IKEA community. This allows for customers to gain access to exclusive discounts, free workshops and events. The brand has invested in the program in preparation for an influx of new members within the downtown core.