Shoppers Strive for Health and Hearth

Feb 05, 2002

Shoppers show a determination to keep New Year’s resolutions from fading away by snapping up diet products, including low-calorie frozen dinners, Slim-Fast and exercise equipment during the first few weeks of 2002, according to Wal-Mart spokeswoman Jessica Moser. Additionally, Wal-Mart shoppers drove up sales of workout clothes, sewing machines, fabric, cosmetics, candles, sleepwear, board games, and home entertainment furniture such as TV and sound-system cabinets in January. Kurt Barnard, president of Barnard’s Retail Trend Report, says the health-and-home purchases at Wal-Mart reflect a national trend, which began after the shock of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. “In times of crisis and stress, people draw more into the home,” Barnard said. “It’s not only Wal-Mart, but almost every store that’s strong in the home category is doing well.” In 2002 and the years to come, the homebody trend also will be linked to demographics as more Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, enter their 50s, 60s and beyond. “As we get older, we stay closer to home,” Barnard adds.

Moderator Comment: What are the most important factors
motivating current shopping behavior on a macroeconomic level?

There is nothing new about dieting and health product
sales going up in January. That is as predictable in retailing as the sales
of products that produce the weight gain in the holiday period that precedes
it. However, are home product sales up as a direct result of the September 11
terrorist acts or simply the expected reaction to a slowing economy and employment

I might quibble with Mr. Barnard’s take on the aging
and homebody syndrome. Although this is not quantitatively scientific, most
of the sixty-somethings that I know spend a great deal of time traveling. They
are either off visiting kids/grandkids located somewhere else in the country
or they are going out to see t he world now that the kids have left the nest.
Anderson – Moderator

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