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Bed Bath & Beyond’s stores have always been chaotic. Now it’s decluttering Marie Kondo-style

<i>Rob Tannenbaum/Bed Bath & Beyond</i><br/>The new bedding section is seen at the store with Bed Bath & Beyond's private label Wild Sage brand. An executive described the old bedding area as
Rob Tannenbaum
Rob Tannenbaum/Bed Bath & Beyond
The new bedding section is seen at the store with Bed Bath & Beyond's private label Wild Sage brand. An executive described the old bedding area as "dark and gloomy."

By Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Business

For years, shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond has meant dealing with chaos. You could lose hours sifting through a hodgepodge of items on cluttered shelves and walk out with nothing.

Now, the chain is making an effort to get organized, Marie Kondo-style.

At its flagship location in New York City, the chain has eliminated 44% of products and arranged what remains by category, price and brand, as opposed to its previous strategy of carrying dozens of different bath mats and can openers. The chain also lowered shelves, widened aisles and reduced the space on the sales floor by around 15% to make it simpler for customers to find products they are hunting for.

It’s all part of Bed Bath & Beyond’s plan to “modernize” its stores. The chain is making a $250 million investment to declutter and renovate 450 locations — more than half its total — over the next three years. Bed Bath & Beyond has faced falling sales and declining foot traffic in recent years as shoppers defect to stores like Target and shop on Amazon, which carry much of the same basics that Bed Bath & Beyond sells.

CEO Mark Tritton explained some of the changes at an event with reporters Tuesday. “We just didn’t need to stack [products] to the ceilings,” he said, noting that shoppers were previously overwhelmed by their choices.

Tritton joined Bed Bath & Beyond from Target two years ago and has led the company through a turnaround over the past year with housebound shoppers increasing their spending on kitchen and home essentials. The company is also closing 200 underperforming stores.

Fixing ‘outdated’ stores

The flagship store is set to reopen Thursday after seven months of renovations.

It features new mini-shops for brands such as Casper, SodaStream, Nespresso and Dyson where shoppers can test out products and a cafe for shoppers to grab La Colombe coffee or a sandwich mid-shop. Bed Bath & Beyond’s goal with these additions is to compel shoppers to spend more time in the store. The flagship is the only remodeled store that will have a cafe, however.

Bed Bath & Beyond has also tried to appeal to customers who want a quicker visit to the store. It has added a dedicated pickup area for customers purchasing products online, a feature to its mobile app where customers can scan and buy products on the app as they shop and bypass the checkout line, and self-checkout stations.

Cristina Fernandez, a retail analyst at Telsey Advisory Group, said Bed Bath & Beyond’s stores “looked outdated” and “hadn’t been invested in for many years.”

Modernizing stores will be crucial to helping Bed Bath & Beyond compete with Target, HomeGoods, At Home and Amazon, she said. “Their stores weren’t really a good shopping experience and that needed to change.”

One other change at the flagship: Joe Hartsig, the company’s chief merchandising officer, said Bed Bath & Beyond had previously “not been addressing more value-conscious consumers.” So it’s showcasing new private brands such as Simply Essential — a home, kitchen and bath product line with ladles and serving spoons for $1, bath towels for $4, and pillows for $5 — around the store with big blue signs advertising their low prices. The company plans to increase its private label brand sales to 30% of total sales, up from around 10% last year.

Bed Bath & Beyond executives also emphasized at the Tuesday event that the remodeled store had better lighting and upgraded floor paneling than the old one. Stacey Shively, a senior vice president, said that the bedding and bath section in the basement of the store used to be “dark and gloomy and a little depressing.”

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