The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show

March 2–4, 2025 | McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

The World’s Leading Home + Housewares Show
March 2—4 | McCormick Place | Chicago, IL

Did you know it’s the 100th anniversary of the wedding registry? Many sources cite the tradition as starting at Chicago’s upscale department store Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s) in 1924. And while wedding registries have certainly evolved in 100 years, they’ve helped lay the groundwork for baby registries, which are now common, as well as a number of non-traditional gift registries for other life events that are starting to gain traction.

If your store only promotes registries for wedding, or is yet to enter the registry business, now might be a good time to get onboard and drive traffic to your store.

A Registry for Anything
Consumers can find countless options for online registries these days, whether tied to an e-commerce site, an omnichannel mass merchant, or a platform that works with multiple retailers. Wedding and baby registries remain the most common, but many now promote registries for other life events like birthdays, new pets, and going away to college.

And maybe you’ve heard about divorce parties becoming a thing? It’s true: “With society widely accepting of broken marriages, many newly uncoupled people feel emboldened to throw themselves bashes,” reported the Wall Street Journal last year.

As a result, registries around divorces are growing in acceptance. Though it’s important to note not all recent divorcees view a registry as a celebration; it’s more of a way of navigating—and showing support—during a momentous life event filled with emotions and practical needs.

People may not realize the emotional impact that simple objects can take on, author Leslie Jamison recently told the Associated Press about divorce registries. New household goods at a time of rupture and despair can draw people closer and become totems, a rebirth of sorts, she said.

Retail Opportunities
Advertising divorce registries might not appeal to everyone quite yet, but there’s plenty of opportunity to promote your store’s overarching registry services for a variety of life events. (Don’t limit your marketing to just weddings either.) Leave it open to consumers to create a registry for whatever event they choose.

After all, some people simply prefer to buy gifts rather than cash or gift cards. (Gift cards often become the fallback when you don’t know what a person actually needs or wants—an issue that registries solve.) According to the International Housewares Association’s 2024 Occasions Survey, consumers say they’re most likely to purchase a home and housewares gift for a housewarming or new home occasion (32%), followed by weddings (28%) and pet ownership (27%).

Registries also don’t have to be focused on life events. There’s growing momentum for charitable organizations to create wish lists for their own operations, their clients (for instance, women who’ve left abusive relationships and are starting new homes), or local families experiencing a crisis of any kind. Look for potential partnerships in your community as a way to build goodwill, awareness and traffic.

To get started with a registry service, retailers can use any number of software providers or online platforms. But it doesn’t have to be a complicated digital system. And even if you don’t think you have the capacity yet for supporting an in-store registry, think about marketing and merchandising your products to different life events customers might be shopping for.


Find more insights from the International Housewares Association’s 2024 Occasions Survey