Functional or fad?
Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group has released data from a consumer survey of the most popular items in one of the most trend-focused home channel categories — small appliances.
The group noted that in the year ended August 2008, the categories with the largest percentage growth in unit sales across specialty kitchen electrics were jar openers, electric kettles, popcorn makers and tea makers. The biggest unit declines were chocolate fountains, electric rotisseries, pizza ovens and roaster ovens.
Electric kettles were the largest category in all specialty kitchen electrics tracked by NPD in the 12 months ending August 2008 (23 percent of units, 19 percent of dollars). The category grew by 21 percent in units and 28 percent in dollar sales. According to the NPD Group’s National Eating Trends, per capita or per person consumption of tea in the home has been steadily increasing over the past five years.
On the other end of the spectrum, chocolate fountains had the largest percentage of unit and dollar declines in the specialty kitchen electrics category, resulting in a 51 percent unit sales decline and a 48 percent dollar sales drop. Chocolate fountains were a big trend in recent years, with the largest growth among these specialty categories in the 12 months ending August 2007, nearly tripling dollar sales of the previous year and quadrupling unit sales.
“It’s noteworthy that specialty kitchen electrics such as popcorn makers, tea makers and electric kettles are showing such substantial growth in the past year,” said Peter Goldman, president of NPD’s home services. “Despite economic turmoil, consumers are seeking comfort and convenience to enhance their stay-at-home lifestyle. Tea and popcorn makers certainly fit the healthy living trend as well.”
Goldman added that in a rougher economy, consumers likely won’t be looking for the latest fad, “or a product that does not offer real value to their everyday lives.”
“Electric jar opener growth is a good example of this and can be attributed to an aging population,” he added. “In this regard, we anticipate seeing more successful specialty appliances geared toward this population as the opportunities there continue to grow.”
Around the Web: Obama tackles housing market
The Barack Obama administration started a temporary program to boost state and local housing finance agencies (HFAs). The purpose of the program is to spur lending and buying in a depressed housing market.
“Through this initiative, the administration aims to help HFAs jumpstart new lending to borrowers who might not otherwise be served and to better support the financing costs of their current programs,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a prepared statement.
True Value fall market held in Atlanta
When True Value president and CEO Lyle Heidemann addressed co-op members at the opening session of the 2008 fall market Oct. 17 in Atlanta, he stressed the importance of Destination True Value — encouraging retailers to adopt the new, more consumer friendly store format in one form or another.
“Much of our future is centered on Destination True Value, both for our existing stores as well as our growth with new ones,” Heidemann told the group assembled at the Georgia World Congress Center. “This year we will open, expand, relocate, convert or remodel more than 100 stores to the new format. In addition, another 75 stores will implement the DTV decor package.”
The point hit home with show attendees Kurt and Kathie Stringham, owners of Stringham’s True Value in Santaquin, Utah, which will undergo a DTV remodel starting next month. “Our sales are down this quarter, but we’re not pessimistic,” Kathie Stringham said. “I’m not sure about the economy, but for hardware stores, if you’re wise you can still do well.”
Carol Wentworth, vp-marketing, also addressed members at the opening session, trying to drive home the importance of national and local advertising in these tough economic times. She said stores that participated in three spring circular programs saw a 7 percent increase in sales and an average of $45,000 more in revenue during the spring season than stores that didn’t use the promotions.
“I think those numbers tell a pretty compelling story about using circulars to help you get ready for the spring selling season,” Wentworth said.
More than 1,000 vendors are introducing new items and offering market-only deals on merchandise from every major product category. Retailers attending the market will also have an opportunity to attend educational classes on everything from merchandising and marketing best practices to the True Value Rewards program and leveraging point-of-sale technology.
The market is open through Oct. 20.