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    Economy Strikes Blow to Housewares Industry

    According to market research company, The NPD Group, Inc., the housewares industry saw declines in 2008 across the board, no doubt as a result of the current economic climate.

    According to market research company, The NPD Group, Inc., the housewares industry saw declines in 2008 across the board, no doubt as a result of the current economic climate.

    The bakeware and cookware categories each had declines of nearly 4 percent in dollars based on NPD’s Retail Tracking Service*. However, cookware did show signs of strength in the cast iron segment. The glass bakeware and glass dinnerware segments showed signs of strength as well.

    In 2008, the glass bakeware segment that makes up 15 percent of the bakeware category grew by 6 percent. The clear standout in 2008 was cast iron cookware and bakeware. Those segments grew by 27 percent in dollar sales, compared to 2007.

    “Although cast iron is still a small segment of the bakeware and cookware categories (5% combined in dollar share), it gets most of the credit for helping keep these categories healthier,” said Peter Goldman, president of NPD’s Home industry sector. “Today cast iron is being offered at many price points, from more economical private label options, to higher-end products endorsed by celebrity chefs – they also offer convenience because they can go from the oven - to the table - to the refrigerator, without any concern.”

    Despite double-digit dollar declines in many tabletop (dinnerware, beverageware, and flatware) categories last year, there were some segments that fared better than others. The segments that fared best were those that were viewed as more economical and practical, and in some cases more casual, like the glass dinnerware and beverageware segments.

    Glass dinnerware (glass/tempered glass/glass-ceramic), though a small segment of the dinnerware market, grew almost 8 percent in dollars during 2008. Glass beverageware declined nearly 8 percent, but when compared to crystal and acrylic options, each declining more than 17 percent it doesn’t look quite that bad.

    The hardest hit housewares category in 2008 tracked by NPD, was crystal giftware. It was down by nearly 20 percent in dollars, compared to 2007.

    “In difficult economic times, consumers tend to spend with an eye toward more practical, multi-use housewares,” noted Goldman. “Retailers and manufacturers that focus their product efforts in that direction are more likely to capture consumer loyalty in the end.”

    *NPD’s Retail Tracking Service for the housewares industry is based on sales from participating retailers; it does not include Walmart or Bed Bath & Beyond. The categories tracked are bakeware, beverageware, cookware, crystal giftware, cutlery, dinnerware, flatware, kettles, and microwaveware.

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