The first snow fall of the season here (at under 400 odd metres, that is) can only mean two things: excited, ski obsessed children; and it's at last time to burn in the fireplace those all-wood, decade-old Ikea shoe stands hoarded for no apparent reason until the realisation dawned that they are perfect tinder.

Ikea are a major fire hazard. Anyone familiar with the layout of their shops knows the lower level, between the wicker products, linen and heaving crowds, is not the place to be caught in a conflagration. Whatever they did for my house price by locating in Grenoble I run the risk of never realising by continuing to frequent the ground levels of their shop. If, that is, the quality of their restaurant pork doesn't get me first.

More importantly (at least in macro economic terms) is that Ikea is possibly the largest mover of Chinese wood and packaging products and is especially sensitive to changes in freight rates: transportation costs can easily be more expensive than the direct cost of production itself.

So the collapse in freight rates is, at least for Ikea, a Good Thing. They will not be amongst those manufacturers unable to (anecdotally for there is no central data base tracking this) obtain letters of credit and ought to be able to name their shipping price.

What is more, those decisions about shifting production away from remote but no longer all that cheap locations are also on the back burner again as rates fall. Shame this all doesn't outweigh the Bad Thing of falling demand though.

Not that will stop me being press ganged into attending those themed dinner nights they keep running to pull in punters (instead of lowering furniture prices). But there are a finite quantity of Swedish meatball or herring-based dishes I'll be roused for before requiring discounts on their principal products.

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