Holiday feasting fattens tableware

Tableware sales during the 1994 Christmas season have increased into the double-digits and began during the Thanksgiving weekend. The top 1994 holiday product categories include Chanukah and Christmas dinnerware, glass serveware, crystal stems, vases and figurines. Al’s Pottery, China and Crystal, Mayfield Heights, OH, reported double-digit sales increases this season. Classic dinnerware patterns from Lenox, Spode and Nikko are the stores top sellers.


Retailers are more than optimistic about Christmas 1994 sales of tableware; they say increases are running into the double digits and started with the Thanksgiving weekend.


Top product categories for the 1994 holiday season include Christmas and Chanukah dinnerware; chargers; figurines; glass serveware and crystal stems and vases.


Ellen Lippmann, president of Al’s Pottery, China & Crystal in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, said her store is experiencing double-digit increases this season. “We always go into the holiday season with optimism,” she said. “The store is stocked in such a way that the amount of merchandise we carry is over-whelming–everything from breadmakers to a beautiful casserole to a full dinnerware set. We want to convey the feeling that a customer can find everything.”


Christmas dinnerware and collectible items are doing very well at Al’s, Lippmann said, and classic patterns from Lenox, Spode and Nikko are strong performers. The company has also brought in Chanukah dinnerware for the first time, namely the Dreidel and Latka pattern from Rosanna Imports. The line, “very contemporary and fun, has performed well for us,” as have Christmas collectibles from Department 56 and Lenox’s nativity scene and seasonal collectibles.


In the china department at Neiman Marcus, sales figures for the fist week following Thanksgiving have also doubled from last year, said David Spaldings, china buyer for the Dallas, Texas-based retailer. “We’ve had a fabulous first week of sales. People are spending money again.”


Spaldings said charger plates are solid sellers, particularly Rosenthal’s Versace patterns, which the retailer “can’t keep enough of in stock.” Bernardaud is also a top vendor for Neiman Marcus, with its Metroples pattern coming in first place. “It’s a high-end pattern that reaches a lot of classifications,” Spaldings added. The department also does a lot of business with the high end of Royal Copenhagen’s line as well as Herend figurines, from $45 on up.


In Neiman Marcus’ crystal department, David Altman, crystal buyer for the retailer, is “guardedly optimistic for the holidays.” Certain aspects of Neiman Marcus’ crystal business have been strong this quarter, he added. The retailer’s “Waterford and Orrefors business is good. Lalique has been exceptional, and our Daum business is fabulous. The three new animals from Baccarat and Baccarat’s Oceana pattern are also performing very well.”


New “saleable” products from the previously mentioned vendors are driving Neiman Marcus’ crystal business and will continue to do so into the new year. “There’s always a big business done at the high end,” said Altman. “Our customers respond to that.”


The vase category overall has been “hot” for Neiman Marcus, Altman continued, with “key price points driving the category.”


Upstairs tabletop departments aren’t alone in reporting active sales.


“There’s been a lot of good growth in housewares for the holiday season,” said an East Coast-based housewares buyer. “Ceramic mugs and the entire glass category as whole has had phenomenal growth, particularly Irish coffee mugs.” Ceramics, a category which has been underdeveloped for this retailer in the past, will be its strongest growth category beyond the fourth quarter, he added.


Glassware is being reported by housewares buyers as the strongest category for the holiday season.


“There’s so much more happening with glass stemware, barware and serveware, and the lighting category in particular,” this quarter, said Bob Kellner, divisional merchandise manager for Burdines, Miami, Fla. “I see lighting doing particularly well for Christmas.” Kellner anticipates that lighting will be a growth category for 1995 and has added to the mix.


In-store events and promotions during the holiday season are helping to bring in sales.


Al’s Pottery, China & Crystal is running a holiday promotion on Royal Doulton stemware. The Wesley pattern, which is retailing at $19 per stem, “is doing extremely well for the holidays,” said Lippman.
Herend Imports shows at Neiman Marcus’ Atlanta and Northpark, Ill. china departments this season have brought in $100,000 in sales each. In addition, the crystal department is promoting Waterford’s Classic line by designer Jim O’Leary at nine locations.

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