South Africa’s value fashion and homeware retailer Mr Price is testing standalone baby stores, in a push to gain a share of the growing and highly competitive baby care products market, starting with a store it launched on Wednesday, it said.

It joins grocer Shoprite’s Checkers and drug store chain Clicks which opened standalone baby stores last year. Clicks’ rival Dis-Chem also bought Baby City, a specialty baby care products retailer in 2020.

Demand for a wide range of baby care products is high in South Africa due to increased urbanization, changing lifestyles and parents seeking more nutrient-dense and organic products, according to market research company Knowledge Sourcing Intelligence.

Mr Price entered the baby market late in 2020 when it launched baby clothing in 188 stores and online, with the CEO at the time valuing the market in South Africa at 3.8 billion rand ($225.6 million).

“After two years of thorough market research, talking to parents and soon-to-be moms, we have designed a store experience to make parenting affordable and convenient for all South Africans,” Donovan Baney, Managing Director of Mr Price said in a statement on Thursday.

Even as overall fertility has declined from an average of 2.62 children per woman in 2009 to 2.31 children in 2022, according to Statistics South Africa, companies have brought out everything from hands free breast pumps and easier-to-feed foods to sportier strollers and baby monitors with colour video screens as they try to lure customers.

Mr Price said the test concept includes 13 stores in total, with two standalone stores and 11 within its main shops for now. Parents will be able to shop everything from prams and car seats to nappies, toys, baby food and other essentials for their children.

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Article written by Nqobile Dludla; and editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise of Reuters