America chose to stay in the kitchen in 2015. Cookware shipments to retailers were up almost 7 percent over 2014 while bakeware was up almost 16 percent. While some retailers probably increased their inventory levels, they generally don’t order from producers without parallel consumer sales. The conclusion is that consumers bought more cookware and bakeware during the just-past year. What accounts for this increase? A few thoughts:
- Lower energy costs. Prices for gasoline and other energy products such as natural gas plummeted during 2015. More disposable income means more money in consumers pockets and a better chance that it will be spent.
- Nervousness about food safety. The continued trials of restaurants reporting everything from outbreaks of e. coli to noravirus infections has to make an impression on consumers. While it doesn’t mean that consumers stop going out to eat completely there may be new-found reluctance to depend on someone else to produce healthy food to eat. The more cooking at home, the greater the sales of cookware and bakeware.
- Continued interest in ethnic cuisines and increased willingness to try something new. We know that one of the drivers of cookware and bakeware sales are cooks wanting to try something new and buying a pan to cook the recipe in. The Internet allows easy access to all sorts of exotic recipes for curious cooks.
- General economic conditions were favorable. While there is a lot of talk about the stagnant middle class, it is also true that the U.S. is at or near full employment. Having most people who want a job having one drives cookware and and all consumer sales.
- A stronger housing and remodeling market. Long known as another driver of sales, new house sales and sales of existing homes strengthened in many markets in 2015. Remodeling was also up as well. These factors help increase cookware sales.
- A stronger dollar. Much cookware is manufactured overseas and imported into the U.S. A stronger dollars makes imports cheaper. Very few price increases were noted at the retail level. In fact, the money/value proposition for cookware continues its upward trend. Consumers are getting better quality cookware for less money now than at any time in the past due to increased productivity of cookware producers.