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    Expert Column: Grocers Can Tap Nonfoods Category for Holiday Revenue

    Toys, pet products represent big opportunity for retailers

    American consumers have drafted their lists of who to shop for and what they might enjoy this year. In addition to apparel, food, electronics and gift cards, toys are still a mainstay under the tree—or next to the menorah, as the case may be.

    In a recent holiday online Nielsen study fielded by Harris Poll of 2,205 U.S. adults from Oct. 15-20, just more than half of all Americans (51 percent) plan to purchase toys as gifts this year. Not surprisingly, parents of a child under the age of 18 are twice as likely to purchase toys as those without children under the age of 18 (82 percent vs. 41 percent, respectively). Those with young children (age 9 or under) or tweens (ages 10-12) are more likely than those with teens (ages 13-17) to plan to purchase toys this holiday season (90 percent and 88 percent vs. 67 percent, respectively).

    According to Nielsen’s Holiday Retail Sales Forecast, an English language survey of 25,000 demographically represented households, Hispanic consumers ranked toy stores as one of the top three channels in which they plan to spend more this season than last year. Some 10 percent of total households surveyed for the Holiday Retail Sales Forecast said they would spend more on toys this year than last year. Hot toy choices for this year, according to the Nielsen Harris Poll data, are children’s books (50 percent plan to purchase), games for consoles (47 percent plan to purchase), and arts and craft supplies (42 percent plan to purchase.)

    Toys are not just for children of the two legged variety, however. Six in 10 Americans are pet owners, with a large majority owning either a dog (65 percent) or a cat (53 percent). According to the American Pet Products Industry, pet products are expected to bring in nearly $60 billion this year. In another Nielsen holiday online survey of 1,143 adults fielded at the end of October, 24 percent of respondents (28 percent of females and 20 percent of males), planned to shop for their furry, finned and feathered friends this year. Most consumers polled planned to spend $10-$25 on pets. The Nielsen Harris Poll survey found that 13 percent of those who do not even have a pet of their own still plan to purchase toys for one this season. A recent global e-commerce Nielsen survey of more than 30,000 respondents in 60 countries found that global online purchase intentions for the pet category doubled in two years from 9 percent in 2012 to 21 percent in 2014. Although the category includes pet food, pet medications and pet apparel as well as toys, this statistic has big implications for the Cyber Monday retail holiday. 

    “What was most interesting to me in the findings of the Nielsen and Harris Poll surveys were that on the kids side, we like to think of ourselves as being so wired, but children’s books and art and craft supplies are both low-tech traditional gifts that will be really big this season," James Russo, SVP, Global Consumers Insights, Nielsen, told Progressive Grocer.

    "On the pet side, the surprise there was the sheer enormity of the retail opportunity," Russo continued. "Pets are increasingly valued as family members and our numbers substantiate that. Additionally, many pet toys and the big children’s toys this year can be found in grocery stores. So, while grocery retailers may not think of their non-food items as being as much in play during the holidays as perhaps are children’s toys or pet toys at specialty stores, there is still a great deal of revenue to be had.”

    Sources: Nielsen and Harris Poll





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