Sales of the bath category come down to earth
New York – In a mixed bag of a year, some bathhouse vendors struggled more than others. It had a lot to do with what they sold and where they sold it.
At the close of the books in 2021, total sales for the bath category increased 1% to $2.910 billion from $2.880 billion in 2020, according to HTT’s Strategic Insights study. This added to explosive activity in 2020 for bath products, when retail sales of towels jumped 10% while retail sales of bath mats and accessories soared 9%.
The full report on the 2021 bath category results appears in the May 2022 edition of Home Textiles Today.
As bath companies move forward in 2022, they are once again traversing troubled waters.
“Inflation, gas prices, war – everyone knows what the macro issues are,” said Jeff Kaufman, COO of Avanti Linens. “We are seeing it in the direct-to-consumer sector and we are also seeing more pushback from brick-and-mortar retailers. [who are] less accommodating on late deliveries, more cancellations, less future commitments. With supply chain issues persistent and pricing pressures, we do not foresee any change in the general retail climate. We are ready for a difficult year.
For napkin manufacturers, soaring cotton prices are a particular pain point. A possible export ban in India as well as a drought affecting US yields pushed prices to their highest level yesterday since May 2011. The USDA’s weekly cotton market review pegged the average price at 145, 01 cents per pound. The average price before the pandemic was 65 cents a pound.
“These increases began in the first quarter of 2021 and have been growing rapidly through today, putting many more challenges in front of suppliers, on top of all the other cost increases,” said Loftex USA CEO Charles Gaenslen. . “That’s why innovation is so important, and it’s something we’ve always focused on to drive sustainability.”
At 1888 Mills, “everything is on the table” from an innovation perspective, said Lexi Schladenhauffen, CXO/chief experience officer at 1888 Mills. An example of this is the company’s recently unveiled DuraHemp program, which consists of a cotton and hemp blend towel program.
“We try to work with different fibers to help counteract cotton increases,” she explained.
“Our global innovation team is exploring all options – from developing new constructions to creating different GSMs that would allow towels to meet customer expectations and deliver value.”
Large discount stores had the highest sales of Loftex Home USA last year.
“The $8-$10 towel business is the workhorse of Walmart and Target, and Costco is also doing a lot of business in the mid-priced towel category – which bodes well for us,” Gaenslen explained. “Mass Merchants in particular continued to be strong last year, and those like these with full omni abilities continued to be the biggest winners.”
Trident managed to maintain its activity by picking up a few programs. “But the last year has been very difficult from a supply chain perspective and retail has also been very difficult,” noted Jeffrey Kambak, CEO of US Operations, The Trident Group.
He continued, “The supply chain has caused all kinds of headaches for everyone. If you couldn’t get into stock, you couldn’t replenish programs and you couldn’t sell.
1888 Mills also recorded gains with discounters, but mainly in promotional activities.
“Much of our towel business last year was at opening prices,” said Lexi Schladenhauffen, CXO/chief experience officer. “We finished strong despite the beginning of the difficulties linked to the increase in the costs of raw materials and logistics. These issues become a huge factor, which only means that this year will be different for everyone. »
A welcome surprise in the year was an explosion in demand for shower curtains.
In particular, the vacation-themed shower curtains in the case of Town & Country Living, quoted Judi Alvarez, vice president of licensing and marketing.
“We’ve now had two seasons for holiday shower curtains, and it’s been a big hit,” she explained. “We don’t overtly offer holiday styles or novelty. Ours are more seasonal, like buffalo checks and yarn-dyed stripes – looks designed with decorating in mind.
Avanti Linens had similar success in shower curtains last year – representing “our strongest category, all types – prints, jacquards, wovens,” Kaufman said. “The modern looks were particularly strong.”
The company’s second best-selling category last year was bath mats, particularly designs that moved away from more traditional looks towards modern looks, he added.
Another new development for bath suppliers in 2021 has been the popularity of multi-packs/sets.
Loftex Home USA had such programs in place before the pandemic, “and we accelerated it” last year, Gaenslen said, with more collections of bath towel packs and hand-wash-combination sets. bath.
Town & Country Living’s most popular prepackaged assortments among shoppers last year included 14-piece shower curtain sets with rings and liners, and others that included bath mats.
“We had a strong response at the opening price level of our sets,” Alvarez said. “People were looking for ways to inexpensively create a new look for their bathrooms in a pre-selected way.”
Trident emphasizes health and hygiene
1888 Mills is bred on “Hemply”
Avanti Linens smashes the novelty button
Town & Country Living is pushing the design calendar
Loftex takes sustainability to the luxury level