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Office Depot to debut office supplies in convenience stores

BY Drug Store News Team

BOCA RATON, Fla. Office Depot and Lil’ Drug Store Products have announced an exclusive partnership that will enable the distribution of Office Depot office supplies for sale in convenience stores throughout the country.

Office Depot will supply Lil’ Drug Store Products with an assortment of more than 25 frequently used office products that are sized and packaged for convenience stores. Lil’ Drug Store will redistribute those products to convenience stores nationwide. Products being offered start around $1.29 and will include pens, scissors, envelopes, notebooks, calculators, tape, markers and more.

“This partnership offers new convenience to our customers and their shoppers. It makes frequently needed products more readily available at the corner store or gas station — whether you’re a business traveler who forgot some items or a mom or dad who needs something for a school project,” said Paul Rossberger, VP sales and marketing for Lil’ Drug Store.

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Retailers decorate shelves with cheaper holiday goods

BY Barbara White-Sax

No one expects a fantastic holiday season, but drug store retailers could generate steady sales from gifts priced under $20.

Tom Bunge, president of the Food Drug Mass Marketing Co., a national retail marketing consulting firm, expected gift giving to be flat to slightly up this year. “I think we’ll see smaller gifts being given, and the mass market should benefit from that,” he said. Consumers, he said, will be looking for “affordable luxuries,” and the mass and drug channel will offer them a range of options at value prices.

CVS, for example, featured a microfiber robe from Aquis for $39.99 on its Web site, along with a number of gift sets from Aromafloria/California Fragrance Co. and Spa Necessities retailing for under $20. That $20 price point seems to be the magic number for drug chains.

“Mass retailers should do well this holiday season in this economy, but they need to offer affordably priced items priced at $19.99 and below,” said Chris Barnes, president of Candle Warmers Etc. Retailers, he said, are particular about how much product they are bringing into stores. “They want four to six pieces in the store instead of 10 to 12 pieces,” he said.

Barnes said the company’s Aurora Candle Warmer Lamp and Contempo Candle Warmer Lamps, priced at around $30, have done well at retail, but he expected even more movement from the company’s new Illuminations Fragrance Warmer, priced at $12.99. Kinney Drug will feature the company’s Hurricane, Aurora and Illuminations products on an endcap in the fourth quarter. CVS will carry several products on its Web site, and likely will carry some models in-store.

Hanna’s Candle Co. is featuring a new wooden wick natural candle, Timberwick, for the holiday. “The Timberwick is very giftable and will retail for $12.99 to $15.99, so it’s a unique gift at a nice price point,” said director of marketing Annett Davidson.

Diffusers, Davidson said, especially in ceramic versions with such add-ins as acrylic beads, are still popular. “Diffusers are a growing home fragrance area,” she said. Hanna’s also will be offering licensed Cinnabon, Hershey’s and Cold Stone Creamery candles for the holiday.

Gibson Overseas is focusing on Peanuts licenses for its holiday season gifts. “We’re a value-oriented supplier, so we tend to do better than most during down economies,” said Roy Chung, director of marketing and communications. “Our drug store business is up 23% year-to-date, with chains looking more and more to their general merchandise to boost traffic and profits.”

This season, CVS will carry Gibson’s Peanuts Happy Holidays three-piece Melacore kids’ set and Peanuts Holiday Joy mugs, which will retail for $9.99 and $4.99, respectively. The products have a Christmas theme.

Toy suppliers also are looking to the $20 range for the most movement this season. Barry Lederman, VP sales and marketing for Peek A Boo, said he expected promotionally priced plush to perform well this holiday season. “Big and cheap will sell,” he said. He expected the company’s line of 10-in. and 12-in. plush Gum Drop Kids and Snowbunnies to be top sellers this season.

“Toys are recession-proof; they are a perpetually strong category for the holiday season,” said Richard Freeman, VP domestic sales at Fascinations Toys & Gifts. While Freeman doesn’t expect sales to be as robust as in past years, he thought the season will be stronger than anticipated, and expected toys priced under $20 to have the most sell-through. “People are going to be picky shoppers,” he said. “Toys that are offered at $20 or under will be huge successes. Innovative new products and retro toys will provide excellent shelf appeal.”

The company has introduced new technology products and inexpensive novelty toys with a learning angle, such as the First Time Clock, a build-your-own clock for kids.

Manufacturers are concentrating on the classics when it comes to licensed holiday products. American Greetings’ ornament lineup will focus on SpongeBob SquarePants, Rudolph and Transformers. The ornaments will retail for $7.99. American Greetings also will run an exclusive plush promotion that offers a Jingle Bell Puppy for $5.99 with the purchase of three AG cards when consumers use their CVS ExtraCare cards.

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Foot care cos. take steps to nab female consumers

BY Michael Johnsen

There is opportunity in foot care, though sales are relatively flat on account of the economy, and the number of units ringing through the cash register is significantly down. Foot care always had been labeled somewhat recession-resistant, with the argument being that consumers strapped for cash more likely would replace their insoles in an effort to extend the life, and comfort, of their shoes.

But according to data provided by Information Resources Inc., sales of foot devices for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 9 for food, drug and mass outlets (excluding Walmart) were only up slightly by 0.8% to $411.6 million. Worse, unit volume dropped 5.3% at 59.4 million.

The opportunity, however, may be even more skewed toward the female shopper than in years past, when insoles and devices designed with the woman in mind were first introduced. And that, too, may be driven by the economy as women gravitate toward spa treatments at home. One of the big hits in the past year has been Telebrand’s Ped Egg, a “foot file” that helps remove calloused skin, with sales up 11.5% to $57.9 million.

“The women’s business has been the healthier of the two, versus men,” Implus’ EVP sales Steve Head said. Along those lines—products appealing to that female shopper—Implus is launching its Airplus for Her shoe comfort kit. “We’ve had some success in specialty with kits—putting more than one item together,” Head said. “It takes your average price point up and gives the consumer an all-in-one stop shop.”

The new Implus kit includes three different kinds of insole support and is designed to potentially bring new users into the category by introducing women to new foot care SKUs.

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