SO HOW ARE SUPERMARKETS doing with their general merchandise and health and beauty care sections? On the eve of the annual
Total Store Expo, sponsored by The
National Association of Chain Drug
Stores, NACDS, and being held this
month in Boston, there may be no better time to examine what is going on
with the overall nonfoods category at
So what is the prognosis? Improving,
say a number of industry sources,
HBC areas, carrying
a wider selection of
merchandise in many
segments and paying particularly close
attention to price points to compete
with other retail classes.
My own “scientific” research backs
this up. I make three to four trips a week
to my local ShopRite in Parsippany, N.J.
and can tell you that it offers a wide
range of HBC items, most placed near
each other in a high-traffic area of the
store. Of course, the pharmacy counter,
I have even seen an uptick in cer-
tain general merchandise segments,
including automotive, home/office and
housewares at the store.
That is good news for the supermarket industry. Even with more competitive pricing, nonfoods produces
extremely healthy margins, especially
for an industry that is not used to high
profit returns on individual sales. And,
many observers note, some sections
of the nonfoods category, particularly
such areas as skin care, oral care, feminine hygiene and, increasingly, men’s
grooming help to bring more shoppers into the store and get them to
spend more money then they originally
Perhaps more importantly, supermarkets may have a great opportunity
to cut into the market share lead of
drug stores and mass merchandisers in
many HBC segments. Drug stores have
become the convenience store of the
21st century, which means they are trying to offer as many products as possible to a time-crunched consumer. It
also means that they are raising price
points, hoping that time equals money
for shoppers and they are not looking
too closely at the price points they are
paying for these items.
Guess what? That strategy may not
be working so well anymore. Many
shoppers are looking at price points
and there appears to be a growing resis-
tance to paying sometimes twice as
much for deodorant or toothpaste at a
drug store than they would pay for the
same product at a grocery store down
Still, those of us who support a greater
emphasis on nonfoods in the grocery
store should not get too excited just yet.
The big push in food stores remains the
perimeter categories, and retailers are
eagerly looking for ways to get more
room for these departments. That often
comes at the expense of the nonfoods.
Total Store Expo, while not a strictly
GM/HBC show, does offer attendees
a broad range of nonfoods items from
many of the key suppliers in the industry. Building the category up will require
more retailers to pay more attention to
the trends impacting the nonfoods category as a whole and the various segments, independently.
Interacting with suppliers at the
three-day show can help retailers determine what the product mix can build
the greatest interest among consumers
while still maximizing profits for retailers. Total Store Expo is the closest thing
the retail industry has to a nonfoods
expo. Take advantage of it.
TAKING STOCK OF NONFOODS
Supermarkets seem to be paying more attention to the many GM and HBC categories within the store.
By Seth Mendelson
Seth Mendelson is publisher
and editorial director of
Grocery Headquarters magazine.
I have even seen an
uptick in certain general
housewares at the store.