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Attendees cautiously optimistic at NACDS TSE

How does it look out there? At the start of the second day of NACDS Total Store Expo and the first day of the trade show, there appears to be a feeling of optimism, yet extreme caution, among most attendees.

The optimism, some said, comes from a strong economy, high consumer confidence and a corresponding increase in shopper spending. The caution, they said, comes from shoppers continuing to look for the best deal on pricing in many cases and, with the growing power of e-commerce, having more places to pick from.
Still, suppliers remain committed to helping retailers attract more shoppers into their stores to spend money. The key, many said, is to offer those shoppers unique items that will fulfill a need.

“Consumers continue to move to better-for-you, healthier and more eco-conscious products,” said John Szustaczek, president of Ultumum, which manufactures the UltuCup menstrual cups, a product he said is experiencing double-digit sales said. “Sales growth of menstrual cups and organic pads and tampons is on the rise as consumers change to these better alternatives.”

On the pharmaceutical end of the business, suppliers said that sales are flat-to-down, but both retailer and consumer enthusiasm for the category is still strong.

“There are many crosswinds affecting industry sales,” said Mark Rinker, vice president of sales for Synergy Medical. “The aging population assures ever-increasing prescription volumes, but there are margin pressures everywhere and the arrival of Amazon and their PillPack compliance model assures that trend will continue.”

With all the discussion, the bottom line is that retailers must be on the cutting edge in order to attract consumers and build profits.

“From our perspective, there hasn’t been a better time to launch new technologies in chain drug and mass,” said Ralph Lombardo, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Avadim Technologies. “Retailers are tired of redundancy and are carving out opportunities for innovation.”
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