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HBA off to a fast start in 1989.

By any measure, HBA had a bang-up first quarter of 1989. Supermarket dollar volume gained 9.8 % over the first three months of last year, while units rose by 7 %. That translates into real growth.

Some of this increase can be directly attributed to the ever increasing number of food/drug combination stores. The approximately 3,800 combination stores nationwide account for only 2.5 % of the total number of food stores in the U. S., but generate 35% of the national food store HBA volume.

Out of all the major categories, cosmetics led the parade, with a 15 % increase over last year's first quarter. Capturing 3.5% of total HBA sales, all cosmetics subcategories achieved double-digit growth. Implements forged ahead of all the rest, up 25 % to capture 7.6 % of cosmetics dollar sales. Eye makeup and accessories, which account for 30.8 % of traditional cosmetics department sales, increased 12 %. Facial products gained 16 % and now command 25.3 % of cosmetics' sales.

Skin care sales rose 12 %. The category constitutes 8.2% of total HBA sales, up from 7.9% a year ago. The highest growth category in the skin care segment was sun care products, increasing 29 %. Within sun care products, the subcategories with the highest growth rate were children's suntan and sunscreen products, up 97 % and 32 %, respectively.

Disposable towelettes, also a leading skin care category, grew by 16%. This segment has achieved double-digit increases for the past two quarters. Sales of hand and body preps, the segment kingpin with a 30.4 % of skin care sales, grew by 15 %.

The greatest impact on all of HBA came from its largest department, medications and health care. The segment, whose dollar sales went up 1 1 %, accounted for 36.4 % of the total HBA dollars for the first quarter, up from 35.3 % during the same period a year ago.

It is within this department's categories where most of the top-growth segments have emerged. Leading the pack this past quarter were diet meal replacements, up 206 %. Diet meal replacements have enjoyed 10 straight quarters of at least 20 % growth, with triple-digit gains posted in the past three quarters.

Chemical disinfectants for soft contact lenses increased 38 % to command 25.7 % of the soft lens preps category. Internal analgesics-the core of medications and health care, as well as the leading segment in overall dollar sales-gained 9 % during the first quarter. However, liquid internal analgesics grew by 27%, to command 3.8 % of the category's dollars. Liquids' share was surpassed in dollars by the newest format, the gelcap, introduced less than a year ago. For the first quarter, gelcaps cultivated a share of 5.4 %.

In vitamins and tonics, fiber supplements enjoyed a 100% sales gain. This increase was directly related to the appearance of oat bran tablets. Oat bran tablets are a new form of fiber supplement with therapeutic claims of reducing blood cholesterol levels, as well as the risk of some cancers. Oat bran tablets account for 57.5 % of all dollar sales in the fiber supplement segment.

Cold products gained 14% in dollar sales during the first quarter. It is still in second place to analgesics, but narrowing the gap very quickly. Some fast-growth subsegments in cold products were cough medications, up 19%, and cold caps, liquids and tabs, up 17%. Caplets gained 26% to capture 10.8% of this category. Other leading gainers in the medications/ health care department include ear medications, up 39%, antidiarrheals and lice treatments, both up 36 %.

Within hair care, hair styling products still lead in dollar gains, up 27 % for the first quarter. Styling products account for 9.8 % of hair care dollars, up from 8. 1 % a year ago. Shampoos, which gained 6 %, still control 41.7 % of this department.

The newest subsegment within shampoos is the small but fast-growing silver/ gray formula, which posted a 98% increase during the first quarter. These shampoos are formulated to enhance the appearance of silver and gray hair.

Hair conditioners and rinses were up 9 % for the first three months of the year. The greatest growth occurred in deep conditioners, which gained 16 % and now control 12 % of hair conditioners and rinses sales.
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Title Annotation:sales of health, beauty aids
Author:Wallace, Mike
Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:Jun 1, 1989
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