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In store, at home candles a natural.

NEW YORK -- Candles have evolved from being purely home decor items to becoming popular gift choices. That trend is helping sustain retail sales, which hit $2 billion last year, as 62% of American households purchased candles, according to the National Candle Association (NCA).

To spur sales of candles retailers are displaying them in multiple locations. "We have two lines of candles," notes Jan Winn, director of health and beauty care/general merchandise at Big Y Foods Inc., a supermarket chain based in Massachusetts. "The Village Candle Inc. collection is merchandised on a wood rack in a health and beauty product aisle end-cap, which is adjacent to the floral department," she adds. "We merchandise the Candle-lite line in an 8-foot section in the housewares aisle."

At a Walgreen Co. unit in New York City birthday candles were sold in the greeting cards section. However, the store also merchandised them as votive and pillar candies near room fresheners.

Meanwhile, Target Corp. offers candles in its stationery sections and on its web site. And Wal-Mart Stores Inc. merchandises decorative candles in its home furnishings department.

Retailers' offerings include many scented items. No fewer than 75% of consumers, both male and female, consider fragrance to be an extremely important attribute when purchasing candles, according to a survey conducted for the NCA.

Suppliers are making sure that retailers have plenty of scented items to satisfy their customers. For example, HCC Brands offers such fragrances as apple spice cake, lavender vanilla, orange clove muffin and sweet violet and jasmine in its soy line of candles.

They were developed in response to consumer preferences for multidimensional fragrances, notes Annett Davidson, HCC Brands' director of marketing. "Demand also is increasing for retro-floral scents, including gardenias and rose blends," she says.

American Greetings Corp., for its part, offers an innovative line--The Triple Trend--in its GuildHouse Candles division. It includes jar candles that have three layers of colors and three fragrances. For example, one item has cucumber canteloupe, watermelon lime and honeydew pear fragrances.

This fall it will introduce five new seasonal fragrances in the 20-ounce candle jar format. They include burnt orange/pumpkin patch and autumn leaves.

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Title Annotation:Merchandising
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 9, 2004
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