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NEW YORK-Weather conditions and allergy seasons provide excellent opportunities to create successful merchandising programs with home solutions and floor care products.

And although most products in these categories are seasonal, there's room to develop year-round sales, retailers and vendors said.

FANS "There's definitely an opportunity to make sales of circulators that have a value-added, year-round usage potential," said Craig Plank, director of marketing for Vornado. "It's not easy. You need to promote it, and you need to educate the consumer."

During the preseason, some retailers pull the product out of the box and plug it in. "Consumers feeling the air from the fan can really make a difference [in sales]," said Eileen Heller, marketing manager for Lasko Metal Products.

Sales in the category vary, depending on the weather, but as retailers begin to offer larger assortments and trade-up options, there has been incremental growth. Estimated unit sales for 1998 were about 20 million.

Here's a look at some other categories:

HEATERS Successful sales in heaters depend on the duration of the winter and to what extent temperatures drop. The category tends to be driven by regional weather conditions, as well as demographics. Home improvement retailers and mass merchants dominate the category, which has annual retail sales in excess of $240 million.

AIR CLEANERS Air purifiers hold a relatively low household penetration, estimated to be around 15 percent. Sales peaks occur in the winter months, when people cocoon themselves indoors, and again in April, when the allergy season arrives. September is also a month when hay fever strikes. Annual retail sales are around $349 million.

HUMIDIFIERS Humidifier sales are extremely seasonal and are successfully driven by extended cold weather. Although growth in the category has slackened recently, increased awareness of the benefits of humidifiers might ignite sales. Retail sales for 1998 were about $296 million.

VACUUMS Upright and canister vacuums with HEPA or allergen filtration systems continue to pique the interests of consumers as they learn the benefits these cleaners provide. Units that are able to clean bare floors are also gaining popularity. For the allergy sufferer, a bare-floor cleaner is ideal because allergists recommend reducing the amount of carpet in a home. Annual retail sales of uprights are about $1.7 billion; canisters, about $565 million.

WATER FILTRATION Water filtration units aren't immediately considered a weather-driven product. But retailers and vendors noted that sales in the category increase during warmer weather, when water consumption increases. Annual retail sales in the category are around $450 million.
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Author:Zaczkiewicz, Arthur
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Date:Jun 28, 1999
Previous Article:U2K OR BUST.

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