Electronic accessories become necessities for consumers

Technology has certainly changed the landscape of the drug channel's general merchandise department. As categories shift, electronic accessories have become a crucial addition to the mix.

Nearly 40% of all consumer electronic spending in 2012 was on tablets, smartphones, laptops and notebooks, according to the Consumer Electronics Association. "Accessories for these products are the growth drivers for the category," said Chris Ely, a spokesperson for the organization. "They also are margin makers."

Headphones and earbuds have had 18% dollar sales growth in 2012 and are expected to have double-digit growth in 2013. Likewise for smartphone cases, which had 14% dollar sales growth in 2012. The CEA projects growth in the category until 2016.

Bluetooth headsets, memory cards, flash drives, and wipes and cleaners are essential products for a plugged-in, electronics-dependent society. Drug store retailers who create a merchandise mix that meets key consumer needs and positions space-efficient departments near the front of the store can become a destination for consumers who increasingly view these products as necessities.

"Need-it-now" products can command a larger margin, so retailers don't ever need to be promotional in this category. There also is room for impulse sales as fashion becomes a bigger part of the category.

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