The retailer's innovative furniture rental service is being offered in partnership with Fat Llama
John Lewis has become the latest firm to embrace the sharing economy, this week launching a new furniture rental service enabling its customers to hire out sofas, desks, dining tables and chairs.
Being launched initially in London with a view to expansion elsewhere in the UK, the rental system is being run in partnership with online rental marketplace Fat Llama, which also already runs the 'Flex Rental' website offering tech products such as speakers, iphones and electric scooters for hire.
John Lewis customers will be able to rent furniture for three, six or twelve months, with the option to buy them at any time with payments already made deducted from the price, the retailer said. The furniture would then be delivered by Fat Llama within two working days, and collected back by the firm at the end of its hire period.
Returned items are also set to be cleaned and, if necessary, refurbished before being rented out again, John Lewis said.
John Lewis director of home Jonathan Marsh said the new rental service offered customers "more sustainable choices".
"Attitudes towards renting items and the sharing economy have dramatically shifted in recent years, and we know that renting, reselling items and recycling them is a growing priority for our customers," he said.
Fat Llama co-founder Chaz Englander added that renting furniture often makes for a better with fit with modern lifestyles marked by greater awareness of environmental impacts, and a lack of young homeowners.
"The world is changing," he said. "People are focusing more on access instead of ownership. As we have seen in the US, renting furniture instead of owning it is becoming the new normal for millennials; a generation that is moving house every 12 months."
US companies offering furniture rental services such as Fernish and Feather have grown rapidly in popularity in recent years. Such a ‘sharing economy' approach can help cut resource use by enabling people to acquire products only for the time that they need them, before passing them on to a new owner, rather than each individual stacking up separate items they only use occasionally. Proponents also argue they can enable a product to enjoy a new lease of life once a user is tired of it, freeing the user to switch to a new style or design without having to send the outdated item to landfill.
Such models have taken off particularly rapidly in the context of transport. Zip Cars, e-bikes and e-scooters are now popular in cities around the world, and while also further growing popularity in other areas, including electronics and, now, furniture.
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