Montgomery's Los Angeles Retail Report
Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery spent a day touring garden centers in Los Angeles recently, and he shared his findings with us.
May 7, 2009
The weather in Southern California has been erratic and sales are slow with the exception of vegetables that are experiencing unprecedented growth. The weather Friday, May 1 was in the 50s in the morning and into the high 70s by the mid-afternoon hours - ideal weather for gardening. For a Friday, there was minimal traffic in all stores visited with the exception of Armstrong Garden Center in Claremont, Calif.
Home Depot has a different model in this market versus what I've observed in other parts of the country, using multiple vendors in each store compared to a single-source supply. In some stores, we counted up to three annual and three perennial vendors. This leads to lack of continuity and makes the job of managing the plan-o-grams difficult. Stores have a primary supplier for annuals and perennials with one or two backups.
Lowe's really excels in merchandising the outdoor aprons, always having high-impact, colorful items that clearly let the consumer know they are in the plant business. Lowe's also has tapped into the hanging basket market with high-impact offerings and a nice range of price points. Lowe's is particularly strong in the annuals category with an array of sizes, price points and very consistent quality store to store
Los Angeles is another place where both the product quality and merchandising has made vast improvements. The Walmart store in Covina (No. 2202) was one of the best I've ever seen. The product quality was way above average and the assortment offered a nice range of sizes and prices. Walmart uses the new Calliope Geranium in the perfect sizes - 12-inch hanging baskets and a 10-inch patio that allows the horizontal growth of this variety to fill out containers. It creates a great look and value for the consumer.
Armstrong Garden Center
As you drive down the street, no garden center grabs your attention like Armstrong with attractive landscaping and lots of color between annuals, perennials and roses. Its huge flowering baskets atop fencing create a dramatic effect, as well.
Armstrong had the best traffic count of any store visited during this day tour. It had some really attractive vignettes, including a separate one for The Suntory Collection and Always in Bloom, the Armstrong concept of selecting a container and then selecting pre-made combination liners that fits inside. Then, during other seasons of the year, consumers can buy seasonal pre-planted refills while using the same container. It's a brilliant way to sell plants, and it practically guarantees the consumer will return each season.
Sam's had only one item, a 16-inch patio pot, retailing at $25.64. Plants were not in bloom and were obviously left over from the weekend before.
Costco offered several really nice items that were great values:
- 12-inch Proven Winners hanging basket retailing at $11.89
- 16-inch patio pot retailing at $21.49
- 10-inch hibiscus retailing at $9.99
As in other areas, vegetables are leading the way in sales gains for everyone. Typically, you see more cross-selling with items that include tomato cages, bagged soil, fertilizer and insect control. In some cases, large containers are selling, too, because many vegetables are destined to be used in patio gardens.
I have seen some creativity relative to vegetable marketing, too. Colorama introduced a line of vegetables and herbs that are being produced under organic standards to comply with USDA's organic certification program. The program is called Healthy Habit. Vegetables are produced in the first rice pot to have a tag-locking feature, because Colorama knows unlabeled vegetables don't sell. The program includes a very attractive label with plenty of instructions.
At Home Depot, Coast Nursery offered an heirloom tomato program. Tomatoes are produced in a 1-gallon container with four color graphics, but tomatoes seemed to be somewhat on the low end of the vegetable pricing scale. Armstrong Garden Centers offered the Organix line of vegetables, along with an extensive line of generic vegetables.
Colorama launched its Healthy Habit vegetable and herb line in a rice pot with locking labels that is or will soon be all USDA-certified organic. El Modeno was offering quart perennials in rice pots without any promotional activities. And, of course, Bonnie vegetables were available under the Eco-Options concept at The Home Depot. Armstrong offered the Organix line of USDA-certified vegetables.
Traffic seemed to be down from what you would expect this time of year, and some merchandise was starting to show signs of aging. Still, for the most part, merchandise was good quality.
Home Depot was promoting 6-inch annuals at $1.50 each but there was not heavy movement with them, unlike the three 4.5-inch annuals for $1.00 promotion several weeks ago that had great success.
The stores we visited were in the area known as the Inland Empire. It has been hit particularly hard by mortgage foreclosures and may not entirely reflect the market in coastal areas.
|Home Depot||6369||Fontana||Colorama||Bordier Nakase||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||0645||Rancho Cucamonga||Colorama||Bordier Nakase||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||0687||Upland||Colorama||Bordier Nakase||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||1084||Mira Loma||Altman||Hines Nakase||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||6617||Glendora||Coast||Bordier Nakase||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||0607||City of Industry||Coast||Bordier Nakase||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||6884||Ontario||Colorama||Bordier Nakase||Bonnie|
|Home Depot||8463||West Covina||Coast||Bordier Nakase||Bonnie|
|Lowe's (1)||1041||Upland||Color Spot||El Modeno||Bonnie|
|Lowe's||0316||Chino Hills||Color Spot||El Modeno||Bonnie|
|Lowe's||1872||City of Industry||Color Spot||El Modeno||Bonnie|
|Lowe's||1170||San Dimas||Color Spot||El Modeno||Bonnie|
|Lowe's||0774||Rancho Cucamonga||Color Spot||El Modeno||Bonnie|
|Lowe's||1700||Fontana||Color Spot||El Modeno||Bonnie|
|Lowe's||2473||Chino||Color Spot||El Modeno||Bonnie|
|Lowe's||2270||Ontario||Color Spot||El Modeno||Bonnie|
|Walmart||1947||Glendora||Color Spot||El Modeno||Bonnie|
|Walmart||2288||Pomona||Color Spot||El Modeno||Bonnie|
|Walmart||2251||City of Industry||Altman||Altman||Bonnie|
|Walmart||3464||Chino||Color Spot||El Modeno||Bonnie|
|Sam's Club||6610||Chino||Color Spot||n/a||n/a|
(1) CMA supplies hanging baskets to Lowe's but Color Spot is the primary annuals vendor.
|Retail Prices Los Angeles Metro|
|Plants That Work||4 Quart||3.99|
|Nooks & Crannies||3-inch||2.99|
|Garden Club Select||Quart||3.48-3.78|
|Garden Club Select||12-inch||22.68|
|Healthy Habit Herbs||Quart||3.34|