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Supermarkets Challenged in Housewares

It doesn’t take rocket science to realize that food and things you cook, store and clean with make great companion merchandise to sell in the food aisles. Profits aside, the offering of such housewares merchandise can go a long way to delight the shopper.

However, it appears it may take rocket science to convince the supermarket trade to embrace housewares categories as other competitive channels have done, including drug stores.

Presently, supermarket sales of housewares represent just 3% of total sales vs. mass merchandisers, which represent 33% of sales. That means grocers have a lot of catching up to do.

Supermarket Guru and SN contributing editor Philip Lempert, who hosted the Sunday session titled, “Cooking Up Bigger Profits with Housewares,” warned grocery retailers not to let the housewares opportunity slip away to the advantage of drug stores as, he said, they have with health and wellness merchandising opportunities.

Three session panelists — housewares consultant Dan Raftery, president of Raftery Resource Network; Joe Kirby, vice president category management, Imperial Distributors and Karin Harding, vice president marketing and sales, Progressive International — judged the effectiveness of housewares merchandising spotted at a number of grocery chains and a few other alternative formats.

Examples displayed from supermarkets included a water bottle display in the seasonal aisle of an Albertson store; an H-E-B back-to-school display; a pantry accessory display in an H-E-B Plus store; a three-piece bowl set on a mobile four-sided display positioned in a high traffic area at a Safeway; drinkware merchandising at an Earth Fare; portion-control implements displayed in the health and wellness section of a Hy-Vee store and seasonal and in-aisle displays at Wegman Markets.

The examples varied in terms of overall effectiveness with Wegman's examples clearly superior to the others that were displayed and judged by the panelists who all had something positive to say about all of them.

According to the panelists, these supermarket were providing their shoppers with housewares items that were convenient for them to buy at a store they frequently shop, sometimes more than once a week. Some of the displays were compelling and enticing, but some still needed better positioning and signage.

The bottom line is that supermarket whether big or small can find the space to sell more profitable housewares items that will satisfy their shoppers and help build greater loyalty.