Bigger turkeys are back as Sam’s Club bets on larger holiday gatherings

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  • Walmart-owned Sam’s Club said it expects customers to host more holiday celebrations this year, with more gift exchanges and larger spreads of food for friends and family.
  • The membership-only warehouse club will throw more store events, sell sizable popular side dishes and carry more toy brands.
  • It’s also launching a direct-to-home wine delivery service in 16 states, which will drop six more 12-bottle bundles of wine at members’ doors.

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From bigger turkeys and taller Christmas trees to more toy brands, Walmart-owned Sam’s Club is betting consumers will go big this year with holiday celebrations.

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The membership-only warehouse club said Friday that it had large gatherings and demand in mind as it selected and ordered holiday merchandise. It doubled the size of the popular holiday side dish, Mashed Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes, from two pounds to four pounds. It developed desserts to please the crowd, such as Christmas-themed cupcakes and brownie-topped cheesecakes. And it launched a new service that will drop 6- and 12-bottle packs of wine at customers’ doors to help them stock up for a party.

Tony Rogers, chief member officer of Sam’s Club, said in the survey and during focus groups on Zoom, members told the company that they plan to meet up with family and friends and enjoy aspects of the holiday season that are considered He has remembered.

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“People have realized that last Christmas has been stolen from them and they look forward to getting back some of those traditions with their families and their friends,” he said. “Our member is telling us that this year they are going to be back like never before.”

In addition, he said, the typical Sam’s Club customer is the type of person who coaches Little League games, hosts parties and teaches Sunday school — and does everything from stocking up on snacks to decorating and picking the perfect gift. , tends to come in season.

Official public health guidance regarding holiday celebrations is yet to come. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Put recommendations on your website, but then pulled down the safety tips. Officials told NBC that the agency would share its guidance soon. The material that was published suggested using fans to open doors and windows or to add ventilation if an event is to take place indoors. It also encouraged people to consider virtual gatherings instead of meeting with people from other households.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician and professor at the University of Toronto, said the COVID-19 vaccination would “provide an important layer of protection to any family gathering” this holiday season. But he said people would have to think about who would be involved. A frail, elderly person or a child who has not yet received the vaccine may be at higher risk of infection.

“People should really think about what their potential risks are, who’s going to be there, who’s at risk, who’s vaccinated and plan accordingly,” he said.

New traditions mix with old

The pandemic has prompted Sam to make some new additions to his holiday line-up. For example, Chief Merchant Megan Crozier said her bakery would sell do-it-yourself kits for decorating cupcakes and cookies. Sam’s Club began selling kits in the spring of 2020 as families search for kid-friendly activities while at home.

Crozier said Sam’s Club is “bringing back the big turkey” after selling too many small turkeys last year. It will sell the same size range as last year — between 10 and 24 pounds — but Sam’s has stocked more on heavier turkeys that are 18 pounds or more, based on insights about how its members plan to celebrate. Huh. She also ordered lamb, rib roast and salmon as people experimented with different Thanksgiving and Christmas menus last year, she said.

Early estimates are calling for strong sales growth this holiday season, with both Bain and Deloitte forecasting a jump of at least 7% from a year ago.

Sam will try to capture as many as he can. It will host a number of sales and sponsor festive activities. There will be sidewalk events of samples, product demonstrations and virtual Santa visits in sixty stores. Five will have even more exciting festivities with a makeshift ice skating rink.

Members will find a wider selection as the retailer adds more than 25 new toy brands, including Rainbow High and Segway. Sam’s also ordered more matching family and mommy-and-me pajama sets this year because last year was such a big seller, she said.

“Cosy and cozy is here to stay,” Crozier said.

warehouse club store boom

Warehouse club stores have seen a surge in membership during the pandemic, as people bought food and household items in bulk and a wave of families moved into suburban and rural areas with larger homes in larger pantries. This category has also benefited, as Millennials marry, have children and buy homes.

Sam’s Club said its membership reached a record high in the most recent quarter ended July 30, but did not disclose specific numbers. Its rivals, Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club, have attracted new members and more sales even during the global health crisis.

Costco has over 800 stores, including some in other countries such as Canada, China, and Mexico. Excluding the impact of changes in gas prices and foreign exchange, its comparable sales increased 13.4% in its most recent fiscal year ended Aug. 29, compared to a year earlier.

BJ’s, a smaller and more regional chain of more than 215 clubs, saw a 21.3% increase in comparable sales in its most recent year ended January 30, excluding fuel sales.

Sam’s Club has about 600 stores. Its comparable sales grew 11.8% in the fiscal year ended January 29, compared to a year earlier, excluding fuel.

Crozier said Sam’s Club placed orders that were early and plentiful enough to meet shoppers’ demand, despite supply chain disruptions that delayed shipments and limited supplies. She said the stores are designed to feel like a “treasure hunt,” where people stumble across interesting items, even when everything they came for is out of stock.

“Something may sell out, but something new is coming right behind it,” she said.

That hasn’t kept Sam’s Club from rolling out its first holiday list to promote hot toys and popular gifts. It will arrive in mailboxes early this month.

“We’re making sure to tell them it’s a ‘while supplies last’ type of situation this year,” said Ciara Enfield, vice president of marketing. “There is a reality that if you see something you like, you have to go ahead and buy it.”

—CNBC Berkeley Lovelace Jr. contributed to this story.

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