Housewares veterans like to remind everyone how the category historically has been a dependable business, prone to neither steep gains during economic booms nor steep declines during downturns.
Some have even labeled the housewares business recession-proof, although we all know such well-intended hyperbole hasn’t been that comforting for many during this disruptive stretch at retail.
It is true, though, that people cook and brew and dine and clean and furnish regardless of what the economic indicators indicate. And the housewares business benefits when people are predisposed to seek shelter, whether such behavior has been inspired by frugality, security, health, comfort or myriad other stay-at-home incentives.
The home is a still a big deal, not just has as a haven of personalized expression but even more so as an active hive of engaging get-togethers. It’s a movement that spans the demographic spectrum— from fledgling apartment dwellers to revitalized empty nesters.
Oh, and there’s another thing that’s keeping people home. You might have heard you can shop for and buy just about anything from a mobile phone and have it shipped to your doorstep, sometimes in a matter of hours?
While traditional retailers are having all sorts of trouble coping with the latter, it is no less a signal that this is a prime time to market home products across physical and digital platforms.
With every retailer on Earth and in cyberspace trying to concoct and bottle an effective experiential retailing concept, most home products by design contribute to more satisfying experiences. That could explain why home products are proving to be much better aligned to today’s more discerning spending economy than apparel, which has lost steam as a primary retail driver.
Fresh signs of home and housewares vitality are all around.
- J.C. Penney, looking to counter the overall sluggish sales endangering department stores, is implementing a “Home Refresh” strategy spurred by strong home sales since re-staging major appliances and bedding.
- Home Depot, enjoying a steady brick-and-mortar upsurge behind improved store operations, service and selection, is going deeper and wider in housewares online and in stores to capitalize on a natural home improvement upsell.
- TJX, already favorably positioned in the strong off-price sector that is keeping stores front and center, is stepping up plans to extend its Canadian Home Sense format into the U.S. as a complement to its thriving HomeGoods business.
The economy is not officially in a recession, even if a stroll though the local mall might suggest otherwise.
Everyone must adapt accordingly to ground-buckling shifts in why and how products are bought. Omnichannel. Experiential retailing. Whatever works in the long run, expect housewares to be a dependable contributor.
Again and again.