Montgomery’s Tampa Retail Report

Montgomery's Tampa Retail Report

Marketing consultant Jerry Montgomery spent last weekend touring Home Depot, Lowe’s and Walmart garden centers in Tampa, Fla., among other retailers. He shared his findings with us.

It was a perfect Saturday (March 21) for gardening and even a better day for buying plants. The temperature in the morning was in the 60s, and it was over 80°F by 3 p.m. Consumers were out in large numbers with parking lots adjacent to the garden centers full.

There was a frenzy on 4.5-inch annuals with Home Depot offering them at three for $1 and Lowe’s countering with the same SKU at $0.33 each. Each retailer had several stores where the 4.5-inch annual displays were completely empty, so the promotion obviously worked. Vegetable sales were also brisk, but annuals seem to be the hot ticket of the day.

Home Depot
These were the best Home Depot stores I’ve ever observed in Florida. They featured spectacular color and good plant size, making their overall quality above average. The hottest items were, of course, the 4.5-inch annuals, but T-18 Landscaper flats were moving briskly along with 10-inch basic baskets ($6.99), as well as landscape tropical foliage. Of course, the No. 1 item you see in every shopping cart is bagged soil.

The color, plant size and overall quality at Lowe’s was equal to Home Depot because it uses the same vendor. However, Lowe’s clearly has the edge in merchandising on aprons because it uses them for mostly green goods, whereas its competitors allocate more space for bagged goods and patio stone.

Lowe’s had a new SKU that was signed ‘Yellow Petunia’ in a gallon yellow container, an obvious response to the ‘Lemon Zest’ at Home Depot. It also had large displays of ‘Yellow Petunia’ in hanging baskets. The Spice of Life vegetable and herb program from Costa Farms seems to do doing very well.

Retailers Visited In Tampa, Fla., Metro Area
Retailer Store No. City Annual Perennial Vegetable
 Home Depot  6311  Tampa  Costa  Riverview   Bonnie 
 Home Depot  0729  Tampa  Costa  Riverview   Bonnie  
 Home Depot  6035  Tampa  Costa  Riverview  Bonnie 
 Home Depot  6361  Tampa  Costa  Riverview  Bonnie 
 Home Depot  0256  Tampa  Costa  Riverview  Bonnie 
 Home Depot  0243  Brandon  Costa  Riverview  Bonnie 
 Home Depot  6380  Riverview  Costa  Riverview  Bonnie 
 Lowe’s  1003  Tampa  Costa Costa   Bonnie 
 Lowe’s  2360  Tampa  Costa  Costa  Bonnie 
 Lowe’s  0564  Tampa  Costa  Costa  Bonnie 
 Lowe’s  1629  Tampa  Costa  Costa  Bonnie 
 Lowe’s  0573  Brandon  Costa  Costa  Bonnie 
 Lowe’s  1911  Riverview  Costa  Costa  Bonnie 
 Walmart  2740  Tampa  American Farm  American Farm  Bonnie 
 Walmart  22627  Tampa  American Farm  American Farm  Bonnie 
 Walmart  1482  Tampa  American Farm  American Farm  Bonnie 
 Walmart  2387  Brandon  American Farm  American Farm  Bonnie 
 Walmart  988  Land O Lakes  American Farm  American Farm  Bonnie 
 Sam’s Club  6401  Tampa  Sunshine Growers  n/a  Sunshine Growers
 Costco    Brandon  n/a n/a  n/a 

It also had great color, good plant size and great overall quality in annuals, some of the best I’ve ever seen in Walmart stores. It uses a 209 pack to counter the T-18 offered by its competitors. In the Tampa area, it would appear the 4.5-inch annual promotion offered by others hurt Walmart’s 4.5-inch sales during this weekend.

Sam’s Club
Sam’s offered three items that were a really good value, but there was little activity in its plants sales area. The values:

– 12-inch patio pot retailing at $15
–10-inch pillar geranium retailing at $12.48
–3-gallon patio vegetables retailing at $10.52

The pillar geraniums were displayed pot to pot so it was hard to see each individual plant, and this may have hurt sales. Sales would have benefited if there was a large label showing the consumer how-to information. Consumers just don’t know this product, even though it has been on the market for years. You rarely see it at retail.

Costco seems to have more of a focus on orchids and bromeliads than outdoor garden, but it did have a few outdoor garden items.
–12-inch combination basket retailing $16.99 (good use of annuals and foliage)
–1-gallon Regal Geranium retailing at $13.79
–14-inch patio pot retailing at $25.99
–10-inch clay pot bromeliad retailing at $19.99
–1-gallon orchid single stem retailing at $20.99
–6-inch clay orchid retailing at $17.99

The season seems to be off to a great start with great weather and anxious consumers, coupled with improving quality products and growers who are creating the “WOW” effect on retailers’ shelves. Retailers are aggressively marketing large and garden products with aggressive advertising and eye-catching promotions.

The product quality in this area has dramatically increased with growers who are putting spectacular color on the shelves of the major retailers. Merchandising at store level has improved with cleaner, neater stores that are well designed with executed plan-o-grams and fewer than ever un-priced items.

One issue is re-stocking while there is heavy consumer traffic. Shelves need to be restocked, but it is highly inconvenient for the consumer. When you see consumers struggling to roll their carts over hoses and dodging grow carts, it makes you wonder if this could be accomplished with less intrusiveness.

Bonnie Plant Farm continues to be the dominant provider of vegetables and herbs to all three national retailers. It has made some interesting changes to its program:

– Improved POS signage that makes it easier to post prices
–Developed the Bonnie brand vegetable fertilizer
–Indemnified patio-type vegetables separately from its products mix
–Are now offering 2-gallon patio vegetables
–Have garnered more retail space

This program just keeps getting better with few challengers in local markets.

Retail Prices: Tampa, Fla.
Item Size Home Depot Lowe’s Walmart
Bedding Plants
Annual 4.5-inch 3/$1 0.33 0.95
  T-18 9.96 9.98  
  209     5.50
  6-inch 2.97 2.48  
Drop & Grow Flat   14.98  
Premium Annuals Quart     2.00
  1G     3.50
Geranium 6-inch     3.50
Wave 6-inch   3.98 3.00
Pillar Geraniums 2G     15.00
Vigoro annuals Quart 2.97    
  1G 3.97    
VIVA! Quart 2.97    
Proven Winners Quart 3.97 3.58  
  1G 4.97    
Garden Club Select Quart   3.58  
  1G   5.48  
  8-inch   7.98  
Perennials Quart      
  1G 3.97 3.48-3.98 3.50
  8-inch   5.98  
Premium Perennials 1G 4.97    
HB Basic 10-inch 6.99 6.98  
HB Premium 10-inch 8.99 8.98  
  12-inch 12.97 12.98 13.50
HB ‘Yellow Petunia’ 12-inch   14.98  
HB ‘Strawberry-Fiber’ 11-inch   17.98  
Coco 14-inch 16.97    
Patio 8-inch urn 7.97    
  10-inch 10.97 11.98 10.00
Patio Geranium-NG Impatiens 10-inch   12.98  
Color Bowl 14-inch 9.99    
  12-inch   11.98  

Leave a Reply

4 comments on “Montgomery’s Tampa Retail Report

  1. Were the 4 1/2″ annuals selling in Tampa at 3/$1.00 actually that size? I was told by a reputable retailer in the VA Beach area where the same promo was run that the annuals proved to be no more than 3″. I also think it does no one in our industry any good when plants are so unrealistically priced.

  2. The question was asked “were the 4.5″ anuals in Tampa retailing @$0.33 only seedling size”?
    The answer is no, they were decent size plants grown close together.
    It was a “doorbuster” promotion, a part of their advertising expemses.
    I have digital images available.

  3. Were the 4 1/2″ annuals selling in Tampa at 3/$1.00 actually that size? I was told by a reputable retailer in the VA Beach area where the same promo was run that the annuals proved to be no more than 3″. I also think it does no one in our industry any good when plants are so unrealistically priced.

  4. The question was asked “were the 4.5″ anuals in Tampa retailing @$0.33 only seedling size”?
    The answer is no, they were decent size plants grown close together.
    It was a “doorbuster” promotion, a part of their advertising expemses.
    I have digital images available.

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