In the five years since the SN headline that boldly proclaimed "GM Power Formulas," not much seems to have changed for the general merchandise departments at supermarkets. While a few retailers have seen some success with their nonfood assortments, building sales in the GM and health and beauty care categories still calls for the same tactics that many retailers advocated in 1997.
SN that summer identified a number of ways that aggressive merchandisers tried to staunch the increasing flow of nonfood sales to mass merchandisers. SN urged retailers to capitalize on the seasonal opportunities in the GM department, to create a destination department to make a statement, and to take advantage of cross-merchandising opportunities in the food aisles to stimulate incremental and impulse sales.
Sound familiar? Probably. Industry experts are still extolling the virtues of those strategies for 2002 and beyond. Some retailers, such as Albertsons, have been employing a combination store format to compete against mass merchandisers. Others have beefed up their in-store photo-finishing labs, added more seasonal events and tried to create a greater awareness of gift items.