The fall weather in Atlanta has been wetter and colder than usual for October, but the good news is the rain has filled the lakes, bringing the water supply back to normal levels while removing all irrigation restrictions. During the two days I visited Atlanta, it was cold, overcast and wet with temperatures in the low 40s at night and low 50s during the day.
Home Depot had large inventories of mums and pansies with an array of sizes and price points. Home Depot built fall-oriented displays incorporating mums, pumpkins, corn stalks and bales of straw that created a nice fall-themed look.
Home Depot had great 14-inch coco mum baskets that were a value at $19.97. It had outstanding 10-inch and 12-inch garden mums with a nice selection of colors.
Home Depot also had the best pansies we observed. They were available in 209 configurations from Stacy’s Greenhouses. Home Depot focused most of its fall merchandising efforts on the outside aprons with large inventories, whereas its competitors focused more on merchandising inside.
Lowe’s offered a large selection of garden mums in various sizes and price points with overall reasonable quality. Lowe’s also had a small emphasis on multicolored mums in the larger sizes.
In pansies, Lowe’s offered a program called Rebound Pansies with a consumer guarantee backed by Syngneta Flowers. Pansies in the program were packaged in a logo pot with a large tag using a pot with a label lock. It was a decent package.
Walmart was in the midst of winding down the season with some stores, using 50 percent or less of its garden center space. What was on the shelves was really good product with a focus on items less than $5 retail.
The main garden mum sizes were 6 inch and 8 inch. In pansies, Walmart focused on 606, and 4 inch. The product quality was above average and well merchandised. Merchandising included accurate price signage on every SKU.
Walmart continues to upgrade their product quality and merchandising.
You can really see the influence of Armstrong, particularly in the area of merchandising both inside the garden center and in the greenhouse with the addition of tables, great signage and product mix. Pike is very innovative in its marketing approach with timely promotions like the “All You Can Carry Pumpkin” for $16.99.
Instead of reducing the price of garden mums, Pike promotes buy-two, get-the third free. Pike also has one of the friendliest, most-informed staffs I’ve seen in any retail establishment.
The weather in the Atlanta market has clearly slowed down consumer traffic and is having an impact on sales. When observing the inventories at various retail locations, it seems as though larger sizes of garden mums were not selling as fast as in the past, evidenced by the overall ripeness.
During Fall 2008, I observed more pansies with more emphasis on the T-18 landscaper. The only pansy marketing program we saw was the Rebound Pansy from Syngenta Flowers offered in a quart size at $2.88 with a logo pot and large label. Although this is a consumer-guarantee program, unless you read the small print on the backside of the container you would never know it was guaranteed.
Prices were reduced on many items indicating the slower-than-usual movement driven by the weather and the lateness of the season. With an adequate supply of water and consumers not being worried about irrigation restrictions, one would expect the spring season will be better than usual. But, of course, spring’s success will depend on the weather.
Table 1. Retailers visited
||Store Number||Location||Annual Vendor||Perennial Vendor|
|Home Depot||0156||Acworth||Pure Beauty-Stacy’s||Stacy’s|
|Home Depot||0153||Marietta||Pure Beauty-Stacy’s||Stacy’s|
|Home Depot||1749||Austell||GC Closed||Outlet Store|
|Home Depot||0121||Vinnings||Pure Beauty-Stacy’s||Stacy’s|
|Lowe’s||1801||Sandy Springs||Costa Farms||Layman|
|Costco||Kennesaw||No garden plants|
|Sam’s Club||8203||Marietta||No garden plants|
Table 2. Retail Prices
|10-inch hanging basket||6.93||10.98|
|12-inch hanging basket|
|14-inch hanging basket||19.97||21.98|
|10-inch hanging basket||4.98||7.98||5.00|
About the author: Jerry Montgomery is a 40-year veteran of the floriculture industry and has worked for distributor companies, breeders and large growers specializing with a focus on sales and marketing. As an industry consultant, he works for large growers, distributors and breeder/producers. His focus is to understand the market dynamics from breeder to consumer through intense retail travel, visiting almost 1,500 stores since January 2008.