Montgomery Reports On Fall Retail

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Slideshow: Fall Retail In Atlanta

Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery recently visited garden centers at Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, and he stopped by Pike Nurseries to get a feel for the fall product. Below are his findings.

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
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
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
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.

Pike Nurseries
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.

Summary
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

Retailer
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
Home Depot 1763 Marietta Rambo-Stacy’s Stacy’s
Home Depot 0116 Woodstock Rambo-Stacy’s Rambo
Home Depot 1777 Kennesaw Rambo-Stacy’s Rambo
Home Depot 0106 Kennesaw Rambo-Stacy’s Rambo
Lowe’s 1668 Alpharetta Costa Farms Layman
Lowe’s 0616 Alpharetta Costa Farms Layman
Lowe’s 0543 Woodstock Costa Farms Layman
Lowe’s 1651 Kennesaw Costa Farms Layman
Lowe’s 0545 Marietta Costa Farms Layman
Lowe’s 0631 Austell Costa Farms Layman
Lowe’s 1801 Sandy Springs Costa Farms Layman
Walmart 3748 Acworth Metrolina Metrolina
Walmart 3471 Kennesaw Metrolina Metrolina
Walmart 0937 Marietta Metrolina Metrolina
Walmart 5390 Marietta Metrolina Metrolina
Walmart 5275 Woodstock Metrolina Metrolina
Walmart 0575 Woodstock Metrolina Metrolina
Pike   Buckhead Wenke-Sunbelt Monrovia
Pike   Toco Hills Wenke-Sunbelt Monrovia
Pike   Roswell Wenke-Sunbelt Monrovia
Costco   Kennesaw No garden plants  
Costco   Alpharetta    
Sam’s Club 8203 Marietta No garden plants  
Sam’s Club 6646 Alpharetta    

Table 2. Retail Prices

Item
Size Home Depot Lowe’s Walmart Pike
Garden mums T-18 11.87 14.98 12.00  
  4-inch   1.76    
  6-inch 2.97 2.48 2.50  
  8-inch 6.27 Deco 4.98 4.50  
Harvest basket 8-inch   7.98 5.00  
  9-inch       7.99
  2 G 5.97 8.98    
  3 G 11.97      
  10-inch 12.99 12.98   12.99
Pumpkin face 10-inch 19.97      
  11-inch   12.98 12.00  
  12-inch 16.97 16.99 15.00 16.99
  14-inch 19.97   20.00 29.99
  10-inch hanging basket 6.93 10.98    
  12-inch hanging basket        
  14-inch hanging basket 19.97 21.98    
Patio square 12-inch   13.98    
Pansies 606 1.79 1.78 1.75 1.99
  306 3.67      
  209 5.99   6.00  
  T-18        
  4-inch 0.99 1.18 1.00 0.87
Rebound pansy Quart   2.88    
  6-inch     3.00  
  8-inch        
  10-inch hanging basket 4.98 7.98 5.00  
Window box 16-inch     10.00  
Color bowl 12-inch   11.26    
Kale/cabbage 209   5.98    
  4-inch 0.99      
  6-inch 2.86 2.98    
  8-inch 4.96      
Asters 6-inch        
  8-inch   5.98 6.00  
Color bowls 12-inch       39.99

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.

Jerry Montgomery (mrplug@cfl.rr.com) is a veteran of the floriculture industry who has worked for distributor companies, breeders and large growers with a focus on sales and marketing. As an industry consultant, Montgomery 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 about 2,700 stores since 2008.

Leave a Reply

8 comments on “Montgomery Reports On Fall Retail

  1. Anonymous

    This may be a good time for Home Depot to have one of their ridiculous 33 cent 4 inch pansy sales like they did in the spring. Using the flower market as a lost leader may help with their snow blower and log splitter sales. I am sure the growers for HD would be very very happy with such a sale.

  2. Anonymous

    Is this a marketing report or a shopping survey. There is no mention of customer traffic or customer count when he was at the stores. We now know who has the cheapest mums and best selection of pansy but what we don’t know is if anyone is buying them.

  3. Anonymous

    What a shame to see how the big box retailers have destroyed the garden center business. Where is the report about independent retailers? Don’t the suppliers of these vultures already know what is going on in the stores? I have nearly as many years in the business as Jerry but I don’t have the cojones to pull such a con job.

  4. Anonymous

    I agree, these reports are pathetic. Why doesn’t Jerry go to any independents, to get a feel for the season’s sales. I can’t believe they(independents) don’t complain more about these reports. Oh, I forgot, they’re working, they don’t have time.

  5. Anonymous

    This may be a good time for Home Depot to have one of their ridiculous 33 cent 4 inch pansy sales like they did in the spring. Using the flower market as a lost leader may help with their snow blower and log splitter sales. I am sure the growers for HD would be very very happy with such a sale.

  6. Anonymous

    Is this a marketing report or a shopping survey. There is no mention of customer traffic or customer count when he was at the stores. We now know who has the cheapest mums and best selection of pansy but what we don’t know is if anyone is buying them.

  7. Anonymous

    What a shame to see how the big box retailers have destroyed the garden center business. Where is the report about independent retailers? Don’t the suppliers of these vultures already know what is going on in the stores? I have nearly as many years in the business as Jerry but I don’t have the cojones to pull such a con job.

  8. Anonymous

    I agree, these reports are pathetic. Why doesn’t Jerry go to any independents, to get a feel for the season’s sales. I can’t believe they(independents) don’t complain more about these reports. Oh, I forgot, they’re working, they don’t have time.