Some independent retailers won’t admit it, but the product quality box stores are pushing these days is becoming yet another challenge for those competing against them.
Angelo Petitti sees the improvement. Petitti, a grower-retailer with Casa Verde Growers and Petitti Garden Centers, cites last Christmas as an example. He says box stores in Northeast Ohio greatly affected the independents’ cut Christmas tree sales because they offered a vastly improved selection. Couple the improved quality with a price that’s even more attractive than the independent retailer’s, and grower-retailers like Petitti will have to devise new strategies this year.
Box stores weren’t just offering an improved selection of cut Christmas trees, though. Poinsettias are yet another item in which box store quality is becoming comparable to independents.
“It used to be you could (only) get a big beautiful poinsettia at a garden center, and the cheap ones were at the box store,” Petitti says. “Now, you can get one whose quality is just as good as the independent garden centers’ the day it is delivered.”
Petitti isn’t the only grower-retailer who feels this way. His sentiment about box store competition is the kind several growers expressed in a late-2011 survey on poinsettias. We surveyed nearly 150 growers on a range of topics, including their production, sales, pricing and takeaways from the season. You’ll find highlights from our survey within this story. Complete coverage of our poinsettia season can be accessed in our annual report at GreenhouseGrower.com/February2012.
One sentiment we continue to hear about poinsettias is that the market is flooded with them. There were probably too many poinsettias on the market again this year, but 43 percent of the growers we surveyed say they produced fewer poinsettias in 2011 than they did the year before.
Thirty-one percent, in fact, say they cut production by at least 5 percent.
One in three growers report producing the same number of units as they did the year before, and a handful of growers (24 percent) say they grew more poinsettias in 2011. So perhaps one of these years, the right number of poinsettias will finally be pushed onto the market.
Because growers often grow too many poinsettias, we asked growers about the percentage of their crop that they dumped. Our results show growers planned slightly better in 2011 than they did in 2010. Fewer growers sold every single poinsettia they produced, but a larger percentage (60 percent in 2011 versus 48 percent in 2010) dumped less than 5 percent of their crop this past season. The percentage of growers that dumped between 5 and 10 percent of their poinsettias also dwindled from year to year (20 percent in 2011 versus 24 percent in 2010).
Sales & Pricing
One thing that did not change from 2010 to 2011 – and, quite frankly, never does – is the top-selling color. Red still reigns, as nearly 98 percent report red again being their top seller at retail. About 2 percent say novelties sold best for them.
There were no major changes in the container sizes used last year, either. A large percentage of growers report 6.5 inch (48 percent) or 6 inch (20 percent) serving as their top-selling size. Based on survey results, 8- and 10-inch poinsettias performed best for more growers in 2011 than the year before. The growers reaping rewards from 8- and 10-inch are likely those looking to differentiate from box stores.
Growers, on average, are also being rewarded with better wholesale pricing. Wholesale prices are up in five of the six sizes we asked about. Only 8-inch pricing is down, and it’s down less than 1 percent.
Average wholesale prices for poinsettias larger than 10 inches, on the other hand, are up nearly 10 percent. Ten-inch poinsettia prices are also up nearly 10 percent, and prices on 6.5-inch are up nearly 13 percent.
Retail prices of 6.5-inch are up as well, but it’s only one of two sizes that generated more on average in 2011 at retail. Average retail prices for poinsettias larger than 10 inches are down nearly 6 percent; 10-inch is down about 9 percent; and 8-inch poinsettia prices are down about 4 percent at retail.
Although the market continues to bear more poinsettias than it can handle, a number of growers put forth a better production plan and reduced their shrink. Red continues to dominate – as do 6- and 6.5-inch containers – and wholesale prices increased among the different container sizes for the first time in a couple years.