ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Sales of health-related books and magazines are up 50% with margins of 38% at many Wegmans Food Markets stores.
The gains began shortly after the retailer re-merchandised the racks in 40 Nature's Marketplace departments in July, said Mark Slater, president of Newmark Media, Addison, Ill., a magazine and book supplier. The publications are displayed by category in up to 14 feet of space.
The changes boosted sales per square foot to more than $750 in the whole-health reading sets, said Slater. In revamping its whole-health reading centers, Wegmans, here, wanted a product mix more appealing to its health-conscious shoppers, he said. Wegmans declined comment.
To improve the presentation, Wegmans replaced Plexiglas display racks with wooden fixtures. The products were replanogrammed and updated with a new title mix. Newmark ships new entries to stores with smaller whole-health book and magazine sets, and services the larger departments.
The average sale at Wegmans is about $14.95 per book, with book prices as high as $29.95 for titles like "Healing With Whole Foods." The whole-health reading centers range from 75 different book and magazine titles on 4-foot racks to 185 or more titles on up to 14-foot racks.
The categories in greatest demand at the Wegmans whole-health reading sections include books on healthy cooking and eating, alternative medicine references, and women's health, Slater said. "Alternative medicine reference books and herbal remedies are other hot topics," he said.
The book and magazine sections get a sales boost when employees at the retailer's staffed whole-health service counter refer customers.
Having the latest bestsellers on the whole-health reading racks is crucial to their success, said Slater. "Equally critical is getting the trade paperback editions of top-selling hardcovers up when they are released, so that the retailer has it the same time as everyone else."
For example, Slater said, when paperback editions, like that of the 1997 New York Times bestseller "8 Weeks to Optimum Health" by natural-health expert Andrew Weil, come out at half the hardcover price, "you must yank the hardcover and replace it with the new edition."
Wegmans is interested in offering 36-inch by 48-inch yoga mats at $22 in Nature's Marketplace, Slater said, and has just installed spinner racks with videos on yoga at $9.99 to $14.99. In September, the chain also began putting up spinner racks in produce with magazines and books on organic produce.