LA HABRA, Calif. -- Food 4 Less Supermarkets here is locating expanded party supply departments near snacks, beverages and deli-bakery to boost party supply sales.
The adjacent departments were placed in Alpha Beta stores in Laguna Niguel and Lawndale and in a new store in Upland, late last year.
"We've tried to create a really strong synergy by tying party supplies more into foods," said Larry Ishii, vice president of general merchandise purchasing.
Since the new party supply areas were placed, reorders at those stores are meeting the company's expectations, Ishii reported.
"We're seeing in terms of reorders through the service company handling the section that we've met our expectations. Of course, in a new store you don't have a point of comparison."
Almost all new Alpha Beta stores on the drawing boards will have the new expanded party supply format, as will most remodeled Alpha Beta stores, Ishii said.
The new Alpha Beta in Upland also introduced a giftware section, merchandised on a freestanding 16-foot-long fixture, that offers small gift items priced from $5 to $20.
The party supply sections are merchandised along with greeting cards in proximity to chips, pop, snacks, deli and hot bakery. "We see a real advantage in this," Ishii added.
"The category seems to be a natural to develop at supermarkets. We have the high weekly traffic, and as a food store we can tie other departments to party supplies to our advantage."
Ishii said by integrating the party supply section with food items it creates a "synergistic effect," and it is possible to direct customer traffic flow to both food and nonfood to stimulate extra impulse sales.
"The flow is from the party department. As the shopper picks up her party plates, napkins and birthday candles she proceeds down the aisle right into the snack food section, where she has candy and nuts, and on the other side of the aisle are the potato chips."
At the Lawndale store, greeting cards and party supplies are adjacent to floral and across from the liquor department where the products are merchandised on gondolas and freestanding fixtures. "When customers enter the store they see the party, the floral and off to the right the liquor," said Ishii.
The section, which also offers crepe papers for decorating banners, is set up "to handle the vast majority of party situations, particularly children's parties."
The section consists of upgraded balloons, licensed children's party goods in table covers, plates, napkins and cups, and party favors.
The greeting card and party supply area at the Lawndale store totals 400 to 500 square feet, two-thirds of which is party products.
At the Laguna Niguel store, party supplies are positioned closer to the service deli and in-store bakery, and near the snack food aisles at the rear of the store.
Party supplies make up one-third of the total 600 to 700 square feet of combined selling area for greeting cards and party supplies at that store.
Party supplies are in six to nine feet of space at other stores in the chain.
Ishii said that for children's birthday parties "a mother goes through a process of anywhere from several weeks to several months of planning, and she observes what is available at the store. After she's organized her plan, she'll come back and buy everything at one time."
Ishii added that "how you decorate has become just as important as throwing a party. The accessories -- plates, napkins and the other items -- now must be color-coordinated."