TERRORISM FEARS BOOST BATTERY SALES

Consumers Stocking up to Fill Emergency Kits

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- Battery sales in food, drug and mass outlets rose for the first time in more than a year in February, as consumers fears of terrorism appeared to help offset the impact of the industry's ongoing price war, according to Banc of America Securities.

Battery dollar sales rose 5% in the four weeks ended Feb. 22, and unit volume surged 11%, according to data from VNU's ACNielsen, excluding Wal-Mart Stores, club and dollar outlets, as reported by Banc of America.

Not a new trend
"We believe this was due to

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the poor weather and terror concerns that prevailed during the month rather than marking the beginning of a new trend," analyst William Steele said in a research note today.

The Department of Homeland Security advised consumers to add a supply of batteries to their terrorism preparedness kits last month. But batteries didn't get quite the bump that duct tape marketers, such as Henkel's Duck brand, saw. Henkel reported Duck brand retail sales were two to three times heavier than normal following the department's advisory to stock up on duct tape and plastic sheeting to guard against a possible chemical or biological attack.

Reversing declines
Private label was the biggest winner in the battery stockpiling, with sales up 16% for the period. Energizer Holdings' battery sales rose 9%, with Rayovac Corp.'s sales up 8% and Gillette Co.'s Duracell brand up only 1%. All brands reversed what had been months of declining sales, despite rising volumes.

Pricing was still down 5% in the period, and Mr. Steele believes it could fall further as the price adjustments Gillette announced in January are fully reflected in coming months.

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