Housewares for the Holidays



By Allison Zisko

Retailers are hoping that functional housewares products—those that make brewing, baking and bartending easier and more manageable—will be a hit for the holidays this year.

Single-serve coffeemakers, waffle makers, stand mixers, cast-iron cookware and wine glasses were among the items The NPD Group predicts will top consumers’ wish lists for their home. The list is based on what categories performed well in holiday gifting over the last two years as well as current sales data.

“While the tried and true products that are among the top sellers year after year are likely to be at the top once again this year, consumers will also be looking for the things that make their lives a little easier, more comfortable and help them save money without cutting back on the things that really matter to them,” said Peter Goldman, president of NPD’s home division.
Current retail holiday promotions bear that out.

“We’ve put our energy into the kitchen right now,” said David Saffieri, divisional merchandise manager of home at Belk department stores, where brands like Cuisinart, Keurig and Calphalon continue to drive the better part of its kitchen business. “Anything with functionality is a big driver for us.”

At Bloomingdale’s, “single-serve coffeemakers, wine glasses, waffle makers, stand mixers, men’s electric shavers and cast iron cookware all fit into a very strong trend of home entertaining,” said Joe Laneve, senior vice president, general merchandise manager, home furnishings.

And J.C. Penney promoted its Cooks brand flip waffle iron and six-quart slow cooker or griddle as part of its Doorbuster specials on Black Friday, while the gift guide on includes single-serve coffeemakers from Keurig and De’Longhi; Martha Stewart cast iron cookware; a Bella Cucina waffle iron, donut maker and cupcake maker; and wine glasses from Lolita and Lenox.

Consumers are definitely spending more time at home, preparing their own food and drinks for company, said Goldman. Celebrity chefs have also put more people into a cooking frame of mind. “There are a lot of aspirational chefs out there,” Goldman noted.

The Gourmet Catalog group has picked up on this trend, showcasing Cuisinart’s six-slice waffle maker as part of its breakfast-themed pages. “With the increase in foodies over the years, there are many additional options for waffles, instead of just your traditional breakfast waffle,” said one executive. “Make savory waffles for appetizers or create tasteful desserts.”

Cast-iron cookware plays into celebrity chefs’ endorsements, according to Goldman. “They offer the benefits of cooking with cookware with good quality perception. These are aspirational as well.”

Saffieri said that Belk, in addition to its Cook’s Tools brand of cast-iron cookware, recently included Le Creuset cast iron in its assortment to build out that category. The fall Gourmet Catalog includes a full collection of Le Creuset cast iron and stoneware items, Bodum’s new Chambord 14.5-inch enameled cast-iron pot, and, in its Ideal Gifts section for the holiday, a Staub 5.75 quart oval cocotte.

Stand mixers are a perennial favorite, “a huge gifting item, in a good or bad economy,” Goldman said. Saffieri agreed. “KitchenAid is an iconic brand, a key gift.”

Single-serve coffeemakers are a practical luxury. They offer the gourmet coffee experience in the home, one cup at a time. “There is, from my point of view, the idea that a single-serve coffeemaker is both multifunctional and highly specialized, and this plays in its favor. You can serve whatever type of coffee or tea your guest wants,” Goldman said.

“Definitely single-serve coffee is probably one of our biggest growth categories in home,” said David Zant, general merchandise manager of home at Belk. Keurig is the key brand there, he added.

Men’s electric shavers are huge during the holidays and have been forever, according to Goldman.

Barware is also always big in the fourth quarter, and wine glasses from makers such as Mikasa, Lenox and Waterford are often featured prominently both online and in in-store displays at retail. Red-etched glasses from Mikasa’s Cheers collection add color to the floor, while Lolita hand-painted stemware provides whimsey. Clear glasses tend to drive the business, however, according to Saffieri.

“Sales of our wine glass category are expected to be up at least 10 percent over last year and the sales of the Napa Valley wine glass collection in particular will more than double over the previous year,” said Kathleen Maahs, director of marketing, Lenox crystal and metal.

Waterford has successfully tweaked its barware assortment in the past year, according to Michael Craig, WWRD group vice president of the Americas. “By bringing in bold new shapes, experimenting with color accents, and introducing key new stemware programs such as Mixology, we’re infusing the Waterford barware category with a modern edge that’s right for everyday entertaining.”–David Gill and Andrea Lillo contributed to this story