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Brief Published: 8 Sep 2020

John Lewis Targets Generation Rent with Furniture Rental

John Lewis x Fat Llama

Reflecting the changing face of home ownership and the likely more commitment-light attitude of post-Covid consumers, British department store John Lewis is partnering with UK borrowing platform Fat Llama to offer a 50-piece furniture rental scheme. Starting in London before expanding countrywide, customers can rent for three, six or 12 months.

John Lewis’s newest business venture targets Gens Z and Y, whose attitudes to home ownership are changing. US millennials typically rent accommodation on a 12-month tenancy agreement, with 12.5% planning to rent forever (Apartment List, 2019), while one in three British millennials are predicted to never own a home (Resolution Foundation, 2018). It’s an attitude likely to accelerate as the world adjusts to a more flexible working framework post-Covid, and eco-conscious consumption continues to rise.

With the range hosted on Fat Llama’s Flex microsite, renters are given the option to purchase at any time, with previous payments subtracted from the price. If the customer reaches the original retail price of the item before the end of the borrowing period, rental payments are terminated. All pieces are professionally cleaned before being rehomed.

John Lewis is not alone in looking to exploit the furniture rental market. In March 2019, American furniture brand West Elm became the first non-fashion brand to join NYC-based rental platform Rent the Runway. In Hong Kong, recently launched (July 2020) start-up Føerni is now the city’s first dedicated online furniture rental platform, offering 90 types of furnishings from players such as cult Danish brand Hay in a bid to combat ‘fast-furniture’ culture.

Swedish giant Ikea has also released plans to trial furniture leasing in 30 markets throughout 2020 as part of its goal to become a circular business by 2030 – joining the resales initiative detailed in our report Maximising the Resales Opportunity: New Tools & Tactics.

For more on how furniture and interiors brands are engaging online consumers, see Igniting Interiors E-Commerce.

For previous reporting on the burgeoning rental market, see Pause & Pulsate: Commerce for Chameleonic Lifestyles, part of our Liquid Retail series.