After visiting 64 big box stores in Florida and Michigan, I observed little change from last season in terms of the poinsettia market. I would say, however, the fact that Black Friday has now turned into Filthy Thursday is getting old and tired, with the industry featuring a $0.99 poinsettia that in some cases may not even be worth that price. Where is the creativity and innovation? We killed the fantasy color concept because too many companies did not apply enough paint, consequently eliminating the wow factor. Now some are doing the same with glittered poinsettias.
Prices have not changed much since last year, and clearly creativity has not changed. The noticeable bright spot was the continuing improvement of the product quality and assortment at Walmart. These stores also offered great values, such as a nice 6-inch plant for $3 in the markets served by Metrolina in Florida, and $3.67 at other stores. The Metrolina product was especially high quality at a fair price point for the consumer. Walmart also offered a really nice 8-inch size with eight to 10 flowers for $9.96 in Florida, with Metrolina leading the way on product quality.
Walmart also had some interesting novelties ideally positioned for their customer base:
- Santa’s Boots with an 8-inch poinsettia: $12.98
- 12-inch Color Bowl with colorful foliage plants and a poinsettia in the center: $15 at the Metrolina stores
Sam’s Club offered some interesting new items this season that included:
- 12-inch square white terrarium with ivy and a poinsettia: $22.98
- Wicker basket with poinsettias: $12.98
- White ceramic pot with poinsettias: $12.98
Meijer in Grand Rapids, Mich., was clearly the best merchandiser. This season it seemed as though there was real partnership with its vendor, Masterpiece Floral. The stores offered great product quality, superb merchandising and one of the best product assortments. Most plants were merchandised on risers and commanded prime shelf space across from the bakery and adjacent to the cash registers.
- The only fantasy poinsettias I observed this season were 6.5-inch plants: $9.99. There were not huge numbers — just enough to make an interesting display.
- 8-inch with two Punch varieties: $18.99
- 6.5-inch ‘Ice Punch': $9.99
- 4.5-inch large plants: three for $9, with a huge display.
Home Depot had a much larger assortment in the South, possibly because they offer so many Mumsettias that don’t seem to fly off the shelves as they did 10 or 15 years ago. They offered more of a standard mix with very few novelties in the regions I covered, except for the ‘Ice Punch’ in a tin deco pot with a retail price of $9.97. This is the same program they have been running for the past three or four years. It seemed as though the garden centers at Home Depot had a strong push on Christmas tree sales.
Lowe’s, as usual, had the largest number of SKUs and devoted a lot of table space for poinsettia merchandising. Although novelty colors were very sparse this year, Lowe’s offered more than others.
A couple of novelties were very interesting at Lowe’s:
- 10-inch square bowl with two red and two white single-stem poinsettias: $12.98
- 14-inch (large) Ready Refill: $17.98
As a retail observer, I would venture to say that this was a flat to slightly-down year for poinsettias, with novelties showing more signs of growth versus standard sizes. There were clearly much fewer novelty colors on the shelves than in past years, and by my estimate, red constituted 85 to 88 percent of sales. Every year the University of Florida does a consumer survey during its poinsettia-sale days, and novelties rate far better than then numbers on the shelves reflect. Are we missing sales opportunities?
Every retailer offered glittered poinsettias — mostly in 6.5-inch pots retailing at between $7.99 and $9.99, with a noticeable difference in appearance. There is a vast difference in the amount of glue and glitter amongst retailers; it appears some vendors just don’t understand the amount of glitter it takes to make it a compelling look. There is also a vast difference in the appearance of glittered plants depending on the shade of red used. The dark reds are not nearly as attractive at the point of purchase as the lighter reds.