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    Leading Grocers Pull Out Stops in Housewares

    Insights to help turn food shoppers into housewares buyers

    By Christina Veiders

    Traffic frequency, along with a spotlight on food and beverages, positions supermarkets as an effective channel to generate sales of housewares, especially kitchenware.

    This was the focus of a business session, “Turning Food Shoppers into Housewares Buyers,” at the International Home + Housewares Show, which just wrapped earlier this month at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

    Hosted by the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Global Market Development Center (GMDC), the session featured panelists from Associated Foods Stores, Imperial Distributors, Valu Merchandisers and Bradshaw International.

    “No other general merchandise category offers as much synergy with food products [as kitchen tools], and the opportunities for effective cross-merchandising are endless,” says Patrick Spear, GMDC president and CEO.

    According to GMDC, the food channel captures most kitchen tool purchases, at 27 percent of the $7.2 billion market.

    This isn’t the case when looking at total housewares sales. Of the $66.8 billion in manufacturer housewares shipments to direct-to-retail accounts, mass merchandisers/supercenters are the leaders, capturing a 14.9 percent share of manufacturer sales, according to the 2015 “State of the Industry” report from the Rosemont, Ill.-based International Housewares Association (IHA).

    The food channel should remain viable for housewares, despite a greater share of sales shifting to nonstore retailers (catalogs/TV, direct to consumer via manufacturer websites, internet retailers) and retailers’ alternative online ordering and pickup services.

    In the industry’s report, nonstore retailers represent 21.8 percent of housewares sales. IHA member companies report doubling the amount of sales to internet retailers over the previous year.

    “The good news for brick-and-mortar retailers,” says Spear, “is that their stores are still overwhelmingly favored as the purchase source by [housewares] shoppers.”

    Over six quarters, 81 percent of both bakeware and gadget buyers made their purchases in-store, while 77 percent of cookware purchasers did so, notes Spear.

    Providing Touchpoints

    “Nothing beats the immediacy of purchasing in a store,” says Dan Raftery, president of Raftery Resource Network, in Antioch, Ill. Raftery conducts the research for IHA’s annual report.

    He adds, “The last time I checked, supermarkets are still the most-often visited retail outlet.”

    While grocery trip frequency has slowed over the years, due partly to a fragmented marketplace where everyone now sells food, supermarkets still average high trip frequency: 1.5 trips per week of 203 million primary grocery shoppers.

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