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US housewares industry set to drive growth in 2024

Housewares suppliers in the US have been telling the IHA about their plans for the year ahead.

Following almost four uncertain years including the pandemic, supply chain difficulties, lifestyle shifts and strains on consumer spending, the home and housewares industry finds itself changed, but ready to drive growth in 2024 and beyond.

Amid continued pressure on consumer spending, many housewares execs have been investing in ways to meet changing consumer needs, collaborate with retail partners and make their operations more flexible and efficient.

Steve Greespon, ceo of Honey-Can-Do International, said: “2024 will be incredibly important to our industry as many brands focus on getting their inventory levels, supply chain and resources in the right place.”

“We’re going into a new chapter in our lives,” agreed Sal Gabbay, ceo of Gibson Homewares. “We need to be positioned to be very quick in reacting to shifts in trends.”

“Status quo will not drive growth over the next few years,” added Rob Michelson, president & chief commercial officer of Bradshaw Home.

2023 saw inflation, lower income and other pressures, and as a result, sales of home and housewares were down 5% in dollars and 7% in units, compared to 2022, according to Circana/Retail Tracking/12 months ending December 2023 vs prior year.

When compared to 2019, however, sales were up 24% in dollars and 2% in units, making home and housewares one of only two general merchandise categories which increased in terms of both dollars and units over pre-pandemic levels, according to Joe Derochowski, Circan vp and home industry advisor.

Overall, US consumer sentiment increased 13% in January 2024, to the highest level in two and a half years, according to a survey by the University of Michigan.

Many housewares companies characterised 2023/2024 as a time for resetting and moving forward.

“We have taken the opportunity to reset our business and focus hard on the things we do well, within the categories we are experts and leaders in, so that we can do them even better,” said Scott Felsenthal, ceo of Whitmor. “Ensuring we maintain operational excellence is a key driver internally.”

“We spent 2023 resetting our five-year strategic plan,” Rob continued. “We are committed to increasing our focus on the end consumer, expanding into new channels of distribution, and driving our market leading brands.”

When it comes to retail relationships, Bill McHenry, president of Widgeteer, said his company is focusing on good communication and partnerships.

Scott added: “Relationships are everything in retail. The easier we can make the jobs of the merchants, buyers and demand planning teams at the retailers we partner with, the more mutual success we will have together.”

“We are focusing on bringing the greatest value to our retail partners and ensuring we are important to them,” Steve furthered. “We are doing this through products specially designed for a retailers’ customer base, great value propositions due to lowered consumer confidence and high inflation in 2023 and improving our supply chain and technology support.”

Connection with consumers is also key, with suppliers making digital marketing and social media a priority for building brand awareness and gaining new customers. The channels also provide a way for them to learn more about current and potential customers.

Steve continued: “The data continues to improve to ensure that brands receive the highest value on their investment.”

Outside trend tracking sources are also being used to refine marketing. “Emphasizing product sustainability and natural ingredients has helped elevate our brand,” said Mike Otterman, president/ceo of Lodge Cast Iron.

In a tough climate, newness often inspires consumers to buy. Lisa Knierim, chief development officer of Creative Tops, explained: “We continue to invest in product development and new product launches. It is essential to long-term health and of course consumer awareness.”

These housewares leaders will gather with the industry at The Inspired Home Show 2024, from 17-19 March at Chicago’s McCormick Place Complex. For more information about the 2024 show and to register for a show badge, visit TheInspiredHomeShow.com.

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