Special promotions, continuity programs and trends toward more upscale cookware will drive sales of housewares this fourth quarter, say supermarket nonfood buyers.
According to Kevin Nicholas, housewares buyer for Spartan Foods, Grand Rapids, Mich., shoppers want long-lasting, high quality cookware, and they are willing to spend a few extra dollars to get it. "More people are spending more on upscale cookware versus cheaper products because it lasts a lot longer," he said. "In dual income families, men seem to spend more [on cookware] and want something more gourmet."
Spartan Foods is a wholesaler for Epoca and Anodized cookware under the Ballarini North America/Epoca label, where a seven-piece boxed Anodized cookware set runs $89.99. Jeff Garey, nonfood director, Woodman's Food Markets, Janesville, Wis., says people are cooking at home more often, and cooking more unique dishes as well. He believes people may buy high-end cookware to match their high-caliber kitchen appliances.
Ballarini North America cookware, East Brunswick, N.J., with the main factory in northern Italy, "provides upscale cookware at supermarket prices," according to President Steve Melzer. He said that the fourth-quarter surge in cookware sales is so strong in grocery stores "because we changed the dynamics of how cookware is purchased." He said the company provides a full line of cookware, "instead of some frying pans tossed in the gadget section."
Brain Numainville, director of research at wholesaler Nash Finch Co., Minneapolis, agreed that people want good quality over low price. "Consumers don't cook as much today," he told SN. "But when they do, it's more of an event -- they want to cook with quality."
Food holidays such as Thanksgiving certainly bring this sense of "event cooking" to good use, and studies prove it. According to NPD Hometrak, a division of the NPD Group, Port Washington, N.Y., 32% of 1999's cookware sales happened in the months of November and December alone. Forty-six percent of sales for roasting pans were sold during this crucial two-month period, while 40% of the year's pie pans, baking sheets and baking pans were sold as well.
To push the bottom line ever further during the fourth quarter, retailers showcase continuity programs and reveal special incentives to buy certain items.
Pat Raybould, president of B&R Stores, Lincoln, Neb., said continuity programs are "meant to be in-and-out programs that throw out fresh items to the consumer." He told SN that all seven Russ Markets, under the B&R banner, have an Oneida Stellarware program that showcases one item a week for an extra low price.
"People create special dishes [at this time] and it's a fun challenge to keep items in stock," said Raybould.
Other incentive programs such as "meal deals" have also proved to be popular, according to Nicholas. Last year, customers who bought a particular frying pan received a free breakfast. It included a dozen eggs, a package of bacon and several bakery bagels, he said. Nicholas said another favorable program that gave customers a free pasta meal if they bought a pasta pot and strainer, is slated to run again in January.
Garey said Woodman's is displaying Bradshaw International's everyday Good Cooks label and the more upscale Chicago Metallic professional line of cookware on half and full palette endcaps. The cookware lines are normally showcased in regular aisles. Roughly 55 stockkeeping units are collectively marked down 10% until after Christmas, according to Garey.
Nash Finch's head general merchandise buyer, Terry Pettinger, said the company also carries 14 stockkeeping units of the Good Cooks line ranging from $7.99 for a 1-quart stainless saucepan with a lid to a $19.99 for a 12-inch saute pan. They carry the line in the entire Midwest region of 700 independent stores and 72 corporate stores. This popular line rolled out in June, according to Pettinger.