NEW YORK — Retailers making the trip to San Diego for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Marketplace conference are optimistic as beauty sales have started to pick up over the past several weeks.

This story first appeared in the June 14, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Last year, the cosmetics segment registered an increase of only 0.7 percent with sales of $2.802 billion for the 52 weeks ended Dec. 23, 2001, excluding Wal-Mart. As of May 19, sales for the 52- week period had grown 3.7 percent to $2.877 billion, according to Information Resources Inc.

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Some retailers remarked that skin care sales have also been picking up.

“There seems to be growth in skin care and I think there will be many new and exciting things in skin care at the show,” said Valerie Cheyney, cosmetics buyer for Happy Harry’s of Newark, Del. She’s also excited about seeing many companies face-to-face. “We order on the Internet with Procter & Gamble, so I’m anxious to see their people.”

Sally Yanke, cosmetics director at Cleveland-based Medic Drug, said she planned to scour the floor for more teen items. “I have to think we have an awful lot of teenagers” shopping our stores, said Yanke. “Cover Girl is still by far, our bestseller.” Recently, Medic has done well with youth line Caboodles and is adding items from Added Xtras, another teen manufacturer. “We are having an awful lot of success with our teen things,” remarked Yanke.

Marketplace, which runs from June 15 to 18 at the San Diego Convention Center, will be offering some new features this year.

As usual, the trade show floor will open to everyone on Sunday at noon. And in keeping with tradition, NACDS has set aside a private time for retailers to preview what is new. But this year, there is a twist.

NACDS is replacing its Retailer First Timer Exhibitor Exchange with a new program — the First Time Exhibitor and Emerging Growth Session. The program allows manufacturers and retailers to chat in eight minute, pre-scheduled meetings in private rooms on the convention hall’s second floor. Rooms have been segmented to the general merchandise, personal care and health care categories. Representatives from approximately 50 retail chains will meet with representatives from as many as 300 manufacturers on Saturday, June 15, between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Previous `First-Timer’ sessions weren’t scheduled, lasted only two hours prior to the show’s official Sunday kickoff and were exclusive to company’s with new products. This year small manufacturers are invited to participate.

Additionally, for the first time, NACDS will pay for retail buyers to attend the show if they come early for the strategic one-on-one sessions. That tactic was made popular by the Efficient Consumer Response Management meetings, and due to competitive pressure has now been adopted by other associations.

Cheyney’s team is one of many that will take advantage of the NACDS travel offer. “I like this because we get to sit in one room and have suppliers come to us,” chuckled Cheyney. She expects the meetings will be great opportunities to learn about new resources. “For the supplier, they are guaranteed they’ll see someone.”

Eckerd executives are also bullish on the format. “We are sending category managers to the Saturday appointments. We think it is a great deal,” said Kathy Steirly, vice president of beauty for the chain. “We will be looking for new introductions and to preview some potential new resources. This helps us greatly as we begin to plan for 2003.”

Karen Durham, divisional merchandise manager at Duane Reade, also said her chain is taking advantage of the new NACDS program and will be sending associates early.

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