GRAND UNION PLANS TO EXPAND PLASTICWARES MERCHANDISING

WAYNE, N.J. -- Grand Union plans to expand the merchandising of larger plasticwares and household-cleaning implements in high-traffic paper-goods and household-cleaning aisles at 60 additional stores this year.The approach has worked well in 20 stores for the past year. Displaying plasticwares on the top shelf tier of the paper-goods aisle, and small cleaning products on skybars over the household

WAYNE, N.J. -- Grand Union plans to expand the merchandising of larger plasticwares and household-cleaning implements in high-traffic paper-goods and household-cleaning aisles at 60 additional stores this year.

The approach has worked well in 20 stores for the past year. Displaying plasticwares on the top shelf tier of the paper-goods aisle, and small cleaning products on skybars over the household cleaning section increased visibility and impulse movement. Plastic laundry baskets, waste-paper pails and hampers are offered on the top shelf tier in paper goods, while about 50 cleaning implements, like scrub brushes, scouring pads and teflon cleaners, are displayed on skybars mounted over the household-cleaning set. These small wares are in addition to those at the regular in-line set.

Beefing up the small wares and bulky plastics mix is part of Grand Union's densing-up strategy to increase product variety in its stores, said Bob Pikarsky, housewares category manager for the chain, based here.

At the first store group with this general merchandise display technique, plasticware products are moving better than when displayed lower on the gondola. "Sales are all incremental and generate eight inventory turns a year," Pikarsky said.

"The bulk plastics are now displayed in a full variety on up to 90 feet of shelving that extends over the household cleaning and paper product gondolas," he added.

Grand Union began implementing this merchandising concept at a few larger stores in January 1996. Due to space constraints these larger plastics were previously offered in limited assortment in the regular housewares aisle, said the retailer.

"These were plastics products in the category that we weren't in. They're part of spring cleaning. They are also an important part of the housewares mix every day. But due to space considerations we didn't have a real good presentation. Sales in the first group of stores using this method have been excellent," added Pikarsky.

When larger plastics are displayed lower on the gondola, turns don't justify the amount of space devoted to them, the retailer stressed.

But merchandising bulky plastics "in dead air space over gondola fixtures puts you into a category that you can't be in lower on the set, and this increases volume," said Pikarsky.

The densing-up effort at larger Grand Union stores also includes an enlarged 24-foot stick goods department (previously the largest department at 16 feet), with an average 12-foot set in the chain.

Grand Union has also embarked on a program to trade up housewares shoppers in the stick goods category. Plans call for promoting a better grade mop, usually sold primarily through mail-order catalogs and housewares retailers like Bed Bath and Beyond, said Pikarsky.

The chain will run a fall mop in-and-out priced at $14.99. "These are usually more expensive mops made in different colors and featured in mail-order catalogs at $29.99, and at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $19.99, which we'll sell at the lower price," said Pikarsky.