1998 POSTS SOLID SALES YEAR: NHMA STUDY

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Consumers are spending more on housewares, and they are turning most frequently to mass retailers and supercenters for their purchases, according to National Housewares Manufacturers Association's (NHMA) State of the Industry Report. Pulling in another strong year, the housewares industry grew by 7.9% to notch $63 billion in sales, said the report, which takes a detailed look at

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Consumers are spending more on housewares, and they are turning most frequently to mass retailers and supercenters for their purchases, according to National Housewares Manufacturers Association's (NHMA) State of the Industry Report. Pulling in another strong year, the housewares industry grew by 7.9% to notch $63 billion in sales, said the report, which takes a detailed look at housewares industry sales by category and distribution channel.

The annual report is a collaborative effort of the NHMA and research firm Willard Bishop Consulting, Barrington, Ill., under the direction of the NHMA's Industry Education Committee.

U.S. Consumers spent an estimated $63 billion on housewares in 1998, up 7.9% from the previous year. Each household shelled out nearly $600 on the category.

Housewares sales have climbed an average of 3.3% over the past five years. "It's a mature industry with consistent growth," said one analyst. "As the economy rises, people open up their pocketbooks a little more."

Consolidation has sprouted fewer but more powerful retailers.

And the "big three" channels of distribution continue to hold a firm grip on the market as the largest distributors of housewares. In ranking order, the report defines the big three as discount stores/supercenters, department stores and specialty stores. This segment racked up $28.5 billion in housewares sales, according to the report.

Meanwhile, of the "middle five" (which include hardware stores/home centers, supermarkets, warehouse clubs, drugstores and catalog showrooms), hardware stores and home centers underwent dramatic growth in 1998, as sales through that channel climbed 14%, to $5.2 billion.

Supermarkets also reported impressive gains, with housewares sales growing 14% in 1998, to $3.7 billion.