• What’s 5 Below?
    As a chain of more than 500 stores in the Eastern U.S., 5 Below is a hit with young people for its eclectic, fast-changing selection of goods, most costing under $5. Roy White reports.

    Roy White
    What’s 5 Below?
    May 2017
    Is Five Below a dollar store? Is Five Below a discount store? Is it a party store? A toy store? Well, not really, on all of those counts. The chain gets its name from the vast majority of items it sells for $5 or less. If you have to categorize it, Five Below is a cool store – the coolest ever according to some – wherein lies the key to this format. The inventory and go-to-market theme are in fact different from anything currently operating in mass market retailing today.
    Cool as it may be, Five Below is also one of the fastest growing operations in the market. Emerging 15 years ago as the brainchild of two former discount store and alternate retail merchants, it now has 525 stores in the eastern half of the US, does close to $1 billion in annual sales and opens 70-85 units annually. Sales grew over 20% last year, profits 40%. 
    Stores average 7,500 square feet, and churn out over $2 million annually, and last year comp store sales rose 2.6%.
  • Health as Status Symbol
    Healthy living is developing into a “status” culture and food is a big part of the trend. Dr. Kantha Shelke analyzes the trend.

    Dr. Kantha Shelke
    Health as Status Symbol
    April 2016
    The motivation to become fit and healthier is greater than ever before. In fact, wellness is becoming a status symbol.
    Consumers know how one lives and how one eats can influence one’s health and quality of life. The result is an unprecedented demand for health and fitness-promoting attributes in practically every CPG sector ranging from foods, supplements, drugs, cosmetics, and personal care to even pet foods.
    Coaches, nutritionists, chefs and fitness and medical professionals are engaged to support manufacturers and customers in making their products more appealing to the fitness-conscious. Snacks can go from ‘forbidden’ to ‘recommended’ just with the addition of lentils, beans, purple corn, or any vegetable, for that matter. Snacking is okay if fiber and vitamins and other nutrients are involved, for humans and pets.
    Health is becoming table stakes in many categories.
  • Is There A Trump Consumer?
    Everyone now knows that there are Trump voters. But are there Trump consumers? Brad Edmondson analyzes the link between the voting booth and the supermarket.

    Brad Edmondson
    Is There A Trump Consumer?
    February 2017
    Donald Trump was elected President by winning in Rustbelt states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.  The pundits say that voters in these states were angry. They turned out in big numbers, and that gave him their electoral votes. 
    The 63 million Americans who voted for Trump were likely to be white and over the age of 50, but that was not a surprise.  Republican candidates always do well there.  Trump won because of unusually strong support from two other groups: men, and people who do not have a college education.
    I am not a political columnist.  I'm a demographics guy. What's interesting to me is that these two groups have something big in common.  They are both getting clobbered by the job market.
    Men hold 70 percent of all jobs in manufacturing.  America has lost more than one-quarter of its manufacturing jobs over the last 15 years.
  • Store Brands for the Military?
    Atten-tion! Military commissaries may finally get private label for their shoppers. Len Lewis has the details.

    Len Lewis
    Store Brands for the Military?
    January 2017
    Military commissaries have been serving officers and enlisted personnel for 150 years. Now, they are facing one of their toughest assignments: bringing in private label.
    The modern commissary was established in 1867 when the average outlet carried about 82 items, the same as civilian dry goods stores at the time.
    Today, nearly 250 outlets worldwide carry about 38,000 items for the military and their families at five percent above cost.
    In 2016, commissary sales were about $5.25 billion, a drop of 4.7 percent from the prior year. Since 2012, dollar sales at these outlets have declined about 14 percent, signaling the need for change.

    However, last year Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act, enabling DeCA to make operational changes and paving the way for eliminating the agency’s $1.4 billion in federal funding by making commissaries self-sufficient.

PLMALive! Archives:
the Best of the Year Past
Lidl’s U.S. Entry

What will Lidl stores look like when the retailer makes its U.S. debut in a few months? Len Lewis reports on what the industry – and consumers -- can expect.

Staying Put

Americans are moving less, but they still love the regional and local foods they grew up with. Brad Edmondson explains how store brands can appeal to homesick consumers.

Energenic Enzymes

Enzymes aren’t sexy, but they’re an integral part of the manufacturing process. From bread to laundry detergent, Dr. Kantha Shelke explains this unsung hero of the industry.

Direct 2 You

From razor blades to paper towels, the digital age is redefining direct-to-consumers sales. Len Lewis reports on opportunities for private label.

Soaring Supplements

Pill, powder, liquid or gummy – dietary supplements are popular sellers in all channels. Bob Vosburgh examines growth trends and regulatory challenges.

Artificial Intelligence

It seemed like sci-fi a few years ago, but today artificial intelligence is real. Veronica Carvalho explains how Siri, Alexa and other digital assistants could shop for the next generation of consumers.

Ahold-Delhaize Changes

After their merger, Ahold and Delhaize have wasted little time transforming their U.S. business. David Merrefield looks at executive suite changes at Stop-n-Shop, Food Lion, Peapod and Hannaford.

What’s innovation?

What does innovation really mean for store brands retailers and suppliers? Jacqueline Ross of AholdDelhaize believes there are many different types of innovation.

Income Inequality Impact

Some markets are booming as consumers enjoy income growth, while others struggle with high rents and related cost-of-living expenses. Brad Edmondson analyzes the trend.

Family Time Grows

Whether it's making a homemade pizza or brownies, some families are using mealtimes and store brands to create fun for themselves. Brad Edmondson reports.

And Then There Were Two

Walgreen's acquisition of Rite Aid may not be final, but the chain drug landscape is down to two huge players. Roy White examines the pending impact on retailers.

Lidl’s Executive Change

A new CEO at Lidl, just months before the chain’s U.S. debut, has many wondering about the company’s strategy. David Merrefield examines the change.