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If Retail Shelves Seem Bare, That's Because They Are

Analysts say that supermarkets, drugstores and discount retailers, who have been expanding the amount of products they carry for years, will be trimming the assortment of products in their stores by at least 15%, Ilan Brat, Ellen Byron and Ann Zimmerman report. Brands, sizes, colors, flavors, fragrances and prices are all under scrutiny.

This presents a huge challenge to manufacturers, of course, who are used to filling up ever-expanding shelf space with ever-expanding SKUs. (Speaking of which, you may want to check out the New York Times' 30th anniversary celebration of the birth of the bar code.)

Walgreens, for example, is cutting the types of superglues it carries to 11 from 25. "All that go-go 1990s where we were adding items in and adding items in, and people wanted more, more, more, more choice ... just didn't pay off," says Catherine Lindner, the drugstore chain's divisional vp for marketing development. "People say, 'Whoa, you're bombarding me. Help me figure out what I need'."

In a sidebar video, Brat tours the aisles and explains why Oreo now has nearly 50 versions of its classic cookie sandwich. And readers are invited to weigh in, too, at an" are there too many product choices" discussion area. The pickings were lean this morning, however. As of 9 a.m. EDT, you could be the first in you peer group to opine




Read the whole story at Wall Street Journal, New York Times »

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