Shoppers flocked last month to the new Ikea in Fishers, but the arrival of the retail giant may have little impact on holiday shopping habits around region.
Indianapolis and regional business leaders expect Ikea's arrival in the metro Indianapolis area to have a positive effect or no effect at all on Christmas retail in the area this season.
Downtown Indianapolis is not known for big box shopping, nor home furnishings, so the Fishers Ikea will likely not impact Christmas retail there, said Catherine Esselman, director of real estate for Downtown Indy.
“We’re talking about two different types of shoppers,” Esselman said. “Downtown is more local handmade items by original artists and unique product lines. We’re not in the same line with Ikea and national retailers. I see Ikea as more of a place where people buy for themselves.”
Leslie Payne, director of marketing and business development for Circle Centre Mall in downtown Indianapolis, agreed. Furniture is not a typical Christmas gift, Payne said.
“It definitely is a different retail segment,” she said.
Mo Merhoff, president of OneZone, a Hamilton County chamber of commerce that serves the Central Indiana business community by reaching across municipal boundaries, however predicted Ikea will actually increase sales in the region, in particular around Fishers.
'All boats rise'
“Ikea falls in the standard chamber category of all boats rise when there are more opportunities,” Merhoff said. “If I’m planning a visit to something new or iconic—i.e., Ikea—there are other opportunities near me. Especially if I go out of my way to go, I would do other activities, restaurants and stores.”
Mega-retailers such as Ikea are not drawing Christmas shoppers away from Indianapolis, Esselman and Payne said.
“I think there is room for both in the market,” Esselman said. “There is enough separation in the market where they don’t cannibalize each other.”
'Our own traditions'
“From what I have experienced, it doesn’t effect it,” Payne said. “Just like you can go to Chicago and have a different experience, we have our own traditions here in Indianapolis that people have come to love and respect. I don’t think (area big box) draws anyone away from us.”
Big box retailers have the same positive effect on Christmas shopping in the entire region as many of the attractions in downtown Indianapolis do, Merhoff said.
“Any entity that becomes a draw, whether it’s the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis or a Pacers game or something like this, adds to why you’d want to be in the area, period,” she said. “Those become regional amenities.”
The Christmas season is shaping up nicely in downtown Indianapolis, Esselman said.
“Downtown has a great selection of independent and unique shops,” she said. “There is a little bit of everything downtown. There is a nice diversity of retailers and everyone is feeling pretty optimistic about the holiday season.”
Payne offered no projections for sales, but said Circle Centre has no problem keeping Christmas shoppers interested in coming downtown.
“We are in the center of the city,” she said. “We are the hub. We have a lot of dining, shopping and entertainment options. It really is a one-stop shop.”
As usual, downtown Indianapolis is anticipating a big day on small business Saturday, the day after Black Friday, Esselman said. The first 100 shoppers will get goodie and gift bags, she said.
“There is a sense of community shopping downtown,” Esselman said. “Our strong retail is really special and will really come alive this holiday season.”
Circle Centre will present musical groups, carolers and special shopping opportunities during sporting events, Payne said.
In addition to photos with Santa, the mall will offer an “augmented reality game” in the form of a scavenger hunt ending with a gift, she said.
Meanwhile, Fishers and nearby Carmel have a variety of special events planned, including both the opening of an outdoor skating rink and a holiday market based on Chicago’s Christkindlmarket concept in Carmel, Merhoff said.
“They’re both examples of a sort of new urbanism on the loose,” she said.
Fishers has a tree lighting and other events scheduled downtown, Merhoff said.