COLTON, Calif. -- Stater Bros. Markets here said the freestanding checkout-lane displays it recently rolled out in 31 stores are driving increased sales of general merchandise and snacks.
The "island" racks, which have four facings for magazines, various general merchandise items, candy and other snack items, were installed in late August in 31 of the 33 Stater Bros. stores in southern California that previously had been Albertson's stores. Stater Bros. acquired 33 Albertson's and 10 Lucky's supermarkets in 1999 as part of Albertson's merger with American Stores.
The rectangular racks are located just a few feet before the entrances to the checkout lanes, giving customers a chance to walk around them and "shop all four sides" as they approach the checkout, according to Cindy Schmitz, director of general merchandise and health and beauty care, Stater Bros.
She said sales on some items are up anywhere from 13% to 25% since they have been placed on the new displays.
"Customer reactions have been real positive," she said. "Sales on all that stuff is up."
Previously, the racks had been L-shaped, with an arm that swung across the checkout aisle as a lane-blocker. They were used primarily for magazines, with a smaller area for impulse general merchandise.
The new racks are 30 inches wide, 65 inches long and 56 inches tall. The island format "increased the holding power" in the high-impulse area near the checkstands, Schmitz said, enabling the stores to merchandise a much wider assortment of general merchandise and snacks and to place gum and mints at every lane instead of in alternate lanes. She declined to reveal the installation costs.
In addition to magazines and traditional impulse general merchandise items like batteries and film, the new displays also carry some impulse personal grooming items, like hairbrushes and lint rollers.
"We looked at some of the top-performing movers, and we looked at impulse-friendly items that traditionally perform pretty well," Schmitz said. "Also, we tried some [general merchandise] items that some other chains had had some success with."
Another big change was the addition of snack-food items from such suppliers as Nabisco, Hostess and Frito-Lay to the racks, Schmitz pointed out.
She said the two former Albertson's stores that did not install the new racks could not accommodate them because their lobby areas were too small. The 10 former Lucky's also could not accommodate the new racks because of their checkout-lane format. All 12 of those stores are being fitted with modified racks, she said.
Schmitz also said that the 112 original Stater Bros. stores would not receive the new display racks because they use a style of checkstand that calls for the checker to unload the shopper's groceries. She said the merchandise mix could change at the other Stater Bros. stores, however, based on the sales results from the freestanding island displays.
"We'll be using some of the same ideas that we have found successful in those stores, as far as using impulse-friendly items and putting some snacks up there," she said.