Montgomery's Orlando Retail Report
Jerry Montgomery shares his take on touring garden centers throughout the Orlando, Fla., area on Sunday, April 5.
April 7, 2009
It was an ideal day for gardening, as well as shopping with temperatures of 55°F at a.m. rising to 85°F by the p.m. hours. Consumers were out in droves during the a.m. hours, but the traffic subsided dramatically in the afternoon.
Bedding plants, perennials and vegetables were moving well with the top selling annual appearing to be the T-18 landscaper tray. In the vegetables category, both seed and plants were selling well along with tremendous volumes of potting soil, top soil and mulches. There was also good movement in foliage plants that double as landscape plants in this market.
We visited two independent garden centers, but both were more focused on landscape plants, fountains and containers, so there was little to report about annuals and perennials.
Home Depot clearly has improved its products, quality and merchandising with better color, plant size and improvements in accuracy of pricing. Every item had the correct price card. The overall look of the interior of the garden centers was clean, neat and well organized.
On the outside aprons, Home Depot seems to have more emphasis on bagged goods, patio stone and larger trees and shrubs with most of the color on the interior of the garden center.
Home Depot uses more plant brands than the other national retailers - VIVA!, Vigoro, Florida Friendly Plants, Wave and Bonnie Plants.
Lowe's had really impressive displays with great color and the right plant size, giving it a very compelling look. At Lowe's, we saw some of the best geraniums - a 6-inch SKU consistently with five to six flowers per plant, where we normally see one to three flowers.
Lowe's also had the best dahlias with good plants, size and loads of flowers. The same held true for New Guinea impatiens. Merchandise of this quality and look clearly is a challenge to any independent garden center with which Lowe's competes.
Lowe's offers most of its premium annuals in the Garden Club Select house brand, but it also offers some interesting programs (i.e. Strawberry Petunia and Yellow Petunia), both with separate SKUs and identity at premium prices. Smart, huh? Costa Farms does a great job mixing petunias and other items by putting two contrasting colors in the same basket.
Lowe's also, in my opinion, maximizes the impact of its outdoor aprons with great colorful displays. The aprons are the highest impact areas and the first thing anybody driving into the parking lot sees.
Walmart has made huge improvements in their Orlando stores with good quality plants showing lots of color that clearly improves the shopping experience. It appears Walmart has reduced the number of SKUs, focusing on the high-volume items and eliminating most of the "cute stuff." Its garden centers look better than ever from my observations.
Along with SKU management, Walmart has really simplified prices. It rounds off either to full dollars or half-dollars (i.e. $3, $3.50 or $4). This strategy really makes pricing easy to understand and simplifies signage.
Costco was focused primarily on Easter offering the following items:
- 10-inch hydrangeas retailing at $14.98
- 10-inch 3ppp Easter lily retailing at $16.99
- 6-inch orchid. ceramic pot retailing at $19.99
- 10-inch bromeliad garden retailing at $19.99
All items were excellent quality, and the Easter lilies seemed to be moving at the best rate.
Sam's offered mostly Easter items but did have two outdoor garden offerings.
- Three 6-inch Easter lilies retailing at $15.88
- 10-inch Easter lily 3ppp retailing at $15.88
- 12-inch tulips retailing at $21.62
- 10-inch hibiscus tree (braided) retailing at $14.88
- 12-inch geraniums retailing at $11.12
The 12-inch geraniums were out of bloom, appearing to have been on the shelves far too long.
|Orlando Retailers & Vendors|
|Home Depot||8447||Lady Lake||Pure Beauty||Riverview|
|Home Depot||0263||Altamonte Springs|
|Home Depot||0264||Lake Mary|
|Lowe's||1685||Lady Lake||Costa Farms||Windmill Farms|
|Costco||Altamonte Springs||White's Nursery||Kerry's|
|Sam's Club||8214||Fern Park||Kurt Weiss||Sunshine Growers|
|Retail Prices Orlando Metro|
After visiting 65 stores in the past three weeks, it seems as though retail sales are better than many (including myself) expected. Perhaps we were somewhat skeptical given the current economic conditions. As most anticipated, vegetable sales are strong and big ticket items are seemingly slow to move. We noticed what seemed to be far less patio pots, obviously because of their price points. We did see more 10-inch basic hanging baskets with price points under $10.
What is most positive is the tremendous increase in product quality and color we have observed from all three national retailers In-store merchandising also made the stores cleaner and easier to shop. One of my pet peeves regarding retail has been the lack of clear, concise price signage, but this is not an issue with the stores visited this spring.