The tide may finally be turning for the housewares industry. November 2014 unit sales were up 3% compared to last year, and dollars were positive as well (+0.3%), according to The NPD Group, a global information company. The preponderance of deals, coupled with the decline in the number of consumers looking to trade up, has limited dollar growth, but the lackluster performance earlier this year makes the increased demand and positive November sales especially good news for non-electrics categories.
“There has been little to celebrate over the past few years when it comes to non-electric categories for the table and kitchen, as well as crystal giftware,” said Debra Mednick, executive director and home industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “‘Replacers’ and new-comers alike are finding attractive options and deals, and so far the 2014 holiday season is shaping up to be a good one for this industry.”
Surprising Bright Spots
Many bright spots this past November were categories that had been on the decline in the weeks and months leading up to November, including but not limited to everyday dinnerware (+10%), cookware (+3%), and non-metal bakeware (+1%). As more Americans are experimenting with, and converting to, alternative coffee-making methods and the popularity of at-home tea-drinking has grown, sales of electric and non-electric kettles have been given a boost over the course of 2014.
A Positive Correlation
It’s been theorized that home sales are a catalyst to sales of home goods, and we now have a greater sense of the correlation. In a recent survey*, 20 percent of respondents said they purchased dinnerware expressly because of moving into a new home. It wouldn’t be a stretch to infer that positive existing home sales in September and October 2014, driven by lower mortgage rates and an improved job market, helped contribute to the uptick in housewares sales.
Once in a Lifetime?
While we’re celebrating, manufacturers and retailers should be aware of one of the greatest challenges in non-electrics. In the same survey mentioned above, about 20 percent of respondents told us they expect to replace common tabletop products (dinnerware and flatware) and kitchen products (cookware, bakeware and cutlery) only once in their lifetime. Even more troubling is that another 20 to 28 percent (depending on gender – men are on the higher end of the range) expect to never replace these products after their initial purchase. Adding those figures together, that’s almost half of Americans that present a very limited opportunity based on their expectations and mindset.
“While there is an encouraging twinkle this holiday season, future opportunity will need to come with a change of mindset and the introduction of products that give consumers a reason to replace, or better yet, upgrade their tabletop and kitchen products,” said Mednick. “Continuing to improve in-store and online merchandising, preventing shopping paralysis, will keep consumers’ attention and wallets focused on purchasing your products, rather than your competition’s or none at all.”
Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Weekly Retail Tracking Service, 4 weeks ending November 29, 2014 vs. year ago
*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / November 2014 Monthly Omnibus Survey