• Jennifer Marks

Big Lots: Soft home flying off the shelves

Consumers responding to trend-right designs, cross-merchandising

Columbus, Ohio – Soft home is punching above its weight at Big Lots – and doing even better at the company’s new Store of the Future units.

The new format has been up and running in a handful of Columbus stores for five to six weeks. Furniture is the showcase department near the store entrance, with soft home and seasonal relocated to the front and positioned adjacently.

“Furniture is doing extremely well,” said Tim Johnson, evp, chief administrative officer and cfo. “And we’re seeing soft home product fly off the shelves.”

Big Lots classifies furniture and seasonal as “ownable” categories for its stores and soft home as “winnable.” Speaking at yesterday’s Big Lots analyst meeting, the company said soft home has been out-performing its designation across the store base.

“Soft home has been performing like an ownable category from a sales trend perspective,” said Lisa Bachmann, evp/chief merchandising officer/chief operating officer.

The textiles department not only enhances Big Lots’ brand image, it offers a market share opportunity as department stores close units and consolidate their bricks & mortar presence, she added.

Although Big Lots’ fledgling e-commerce operation is a small part of the overall business, soft home is the second most purchased category after seasonal. Furniture is the most researched category on the retailer’s site.

Improved product design and in-store merchandising vignettes are clicking with Big Lots’ core consumer, who lacks confidence in decorating, said Bachmann.

“Trend and fashion are very important to her. We’re no longer at the bottom of the trend; we’re at the top of the trend, and it’s really resonating,” she added.

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