7 Ways To Sell More Housewares
Sales of housewares benefited from a pandemic-driven shift to at-home eating and experimentation with preparation methods, which often required new tools. To keep the momentum going, leading suppliers and others with extensive category knowledge believe that grocers can boost housewares sales by doing the following:
- Make housewares displays more prominent though location and signage, and enhance them with category-related secondary fixtures.
- Incorporate housewares into seasonal displays that include a broader range of product categories.
- Feature housewares in digital presentations and promotions, including for delivery and curbside pickup.
- Leverage fixture innovations that allow for greater assortment density in comparable space.
- Ensure that housewares are regionally and locally relevant.
- Promote housewares items that support consumers’ at-home entertainment and entertaining needs.
- Recognize that sustainability concerns factor prominently into many shoppers’ purchase decisions, and plan assortments appropriately.
OPPORTUNITY KEEPS COOKING
The trajectory of sales in 2021 may inevitably slow compared with the prior year, but the long-term trend remains favorable, depending on how one looks at the category, according to Joe Derochowski, VP and home industry adviser at The NPD Group, based in Port Washington, N.Y.
“We are forecasting unit sales to be down this year versus 2020, but up versus 2019,” notes Derochowski. “With stimulus checks and changing consumer needs throughout the year, we have the potential to beat 2020 with innovation and agility in products and marketing.”
Suppliers that do significant business in the grocery channel saw big gains in 2020 and believe that those will carry forward.
“Overall, we have seen strong business with our grocery partners,” affirms Ross Patterson, president of Buffalo, N.Y.-based Robinson Home Products, which makes a wide range of food prep items and gadgets, as well as barware. “During the retail shutdowns that occurred last year, there was certainly a lot of evidence that grocery and mass picked up the volume that others lost. In many cases, a new focus on those categories seemed to create a permanent lift, and I assume the market share gained will be long-lasting, as consumers are now more aware they can buy quality housewares in the grocery channel.”
Commerce, Calif.-based Gibson Overseas, which offers tableware, cookware and related categories, and has long supplied the grocery channel, also experienced sales lifts at food retailers when the pandemic hit.
“Naturally, grocery stores held an advantage over the majority of retailers during the shutdown orders brought on by the pandemic,” says David Nicklin, Gibson’s SVP of marketing and licensing. “Consequently, we experienced an influx of orders from grocery retailers. We were actually struggling to keep up with the unprecedented demand.”
As the pandemic forced closures of some stores, many housewares vendors were able to shift gears and move goods to those retailers that continued to operate, Garden City, N.Y.-based Lifetime Brands among them.
“The supermarket/grocery channel saw dramatic sales and traffic increases proportionate to the population staying, working, schooling and dining at home,” observes Mike Doyle, the company’s EVP sales. “Lifetime Brands adapted and pivoted quickly to service our customers in new ways, through virtual meetings, while changing our own work rules and habits to protect our associates. Lifetime was able to continue shipping at record capacities to support the volume increases in the channel.”
Chicago-based market research firm IRI registered gains in multiple housewares categories in the food retail channel for the 52-week period ended Dec. 27, 2020. In the household plastics category, sales increased 13.9% and units increased 3.2%. The stovetop cookware segment saw a 28.9% advance in dollar sales and a 16.6% increase in unit sales. The nonelectric kitchen tool segment saw a 26.4% advance in dollar sales and a 13.1% increase in unit sales. Drinkware enjoyed a 21.4% increase in dollar sales and a 1% gain in unit sales.
Looking to the Future
Consumers invested in their homes during the pandemic to make them better suited for work and play. As they begin socializing again and COVID-19 becomes less of a threat, many consumers are expected to remain close to home and use their new skills and equipment to entertain. They may start out on a small scale, using the garage for get-togethers, as has already happened in some cases, as well as transitioning to patios and backyards when weather permits.