your fall preparations
by Monica Humbard
Supermarkets share ideas for having profitable autumn sales,
whether your displays are indoors or out.
Your customers’ thoughts soon will be turning to fall, a time of
football, tailgate parties and harvest celebrations. You can
capitalize on this season with the right kind of merchandising
and product selection. Take a look at the successful displays on
these pages, and find ideas for your own stores.
Outdoor display draws a crowd
Most floral departments constantly struggle with having enough
room. But when fall comes around, many take advantage of the
vast space just outside the store entrance, building massive
displays filled with fall mum plants and pumpkins.
But the abundant display space comes with a challenge. The
floral employees must maintain it and service the customers who
visit it while still staffing the indoor floral department as
In early September last year, Logli Supermarket No. 750, in
Rockford, Ill., constructed an outdoor fall display that
extended from one entrance to the other. It featured yellow,
burgundy, bronze, pink, lavender, rust and white potted mums;
pumpkins; cornstalks; and straw bales.
Dianne Kozel, floral manager, received more positive comments
than ever before about the display. “I was surprised at how many
people took the time to seek me out to tell me how great it
looked,” she says. “Even men came back to our department to tell
me how great it was. Customers were still talking about it in
Ms. Kozel says fall promotions are important to floral
departments because they move a lot of product at a
traditionally slower sales time. She explains that many
customers are busy getting kids ready to go back to school at
this time and often have less discretionary money to spend. The
season also doesn’t have any major floral holidays.
Here are Ms. Kozel’s recommendations for a successful outdoor
MAINTENANCE Check these displays constantly, condensing
and filling in holes as items sell. Ms. Kozel stresses the
importance of watering and deadheading (removing broken and
SIGNAGE Unfortunately, employees usually don’t have the
time to staff outdoor displays regularly to answer customers’
questions. Ms. Kozel recommends grouping like items and
providing separate signage for each area. This allows customers
to easily distinguish between different pricing for different
sizes of similar products—such as potted mums. Plus, she says,
this makes displays more appealing.
As an additional clarification for products and pricing, a
scarecrow in Ms. Kozel’s display carried a sign that listed all
featured items and their prices.
ADD-ON SALES Don’t settle for traditional fall sales.
Enhance sales with add-ons. For the first time last fall, Ms.
Kozel’s store sold straw bales. She says they were a great
add-on. In addition, at the base of the display, the bales added
texture, and their color enhanced the products.
The Logli display also included cornstalks, which not only gave
the display height and interest but also extra sales. Ms Kozel
upgraded some of the stalks with ribbon and corncobs. She says
this didn’t require much extra time but yielded great upgrade
DISPLAY TIP Sometimes a simple display technique can
enhance sales. Ms. Kozel usually tips some of the potted mums on
their sides for better “visual value” and “showier impact.”
ATTENTION GRABBER (above) Life-size scarecrows drew
customers’ attention to Ms. Kozel’s fall display. Each body was
made from a cross of wood cemented into a papier-m‚chÈ container
(used for funeral flowers) or a cut-off milk carton. After
stuffing the scarecrow with bubble wrap, she dressed the body in
old clothes. The floral department saved the excelsior from
tulip shipments and used it as “straw” coming out of the arms
and legs. A milk carton served as the head. Ms. Kozel sprayed it
a neutral color and sealed it with an acrylic spray. She used a
marker to draw on the face and topped it with a straw pot cover
for a hat.
“We’re always looking for something effective but inexpensive,”
Ms. Kozel says. “Everyone wanted to buy the scarecrows. I shared
how I created them so customers could make them, too.”
While Ms. Kozel had fun putting together this fall display—and
sales for 14-inch mums tripled from the previous year—it was a
challenge to keep the display full. “A very good problem to
have!” she says.
display is a winner
As fall approaches, it’s time for you to get customers into the
season by introducing products for decorating their homes. “When
you reintroduce the fall theme after summer, everyone likes to
see it,” says Jamey Barnett, produce manager at Publix Super
Market No. 792 in North Port, Fla.
The challenge, however, is the lack of floral holidays on which
to pin your fall promotions and displays. Therefore, floral
departments must get creative. Mr. Barnett’s Publix location has
had success with floral merchandising for what are considered
nonfloral selling events. At the start of last year’s football
season, the floral department experienced successful fall sales
by featuring potted ‘Pelee’ mums, cut Gladioli and cinnamon
brooms in a tailgating sales event.
The display went up in the store’s lobby in September and
remained for two weeks. Mr. Barnett says his store tries to get
a jump on fall merchandising each year because it competes for
sales with a nearby farm’s fall festival.
When tying into fall events such as football, Mr. Barnett has
the following recommendations.
LIMIT OFFERINGS Pick three or four floral items to
contribute to the display. If you try to include more, it takes
away from the display. In the tailgating display, the focus was
on the ‘Pelee’ mums, cut Gladioli and cinnamon brooms.
GO SEASONAL Choose items that are identified with the
season, such as mum plants and cinnamon brooms. If you want to
highlight something new, limit your offerings to one new item
and a few other well-known products.
FRESHNESS Display only the freshest products, and don’t be
afraid to toss expired items. Customers have to believe products
will last. A dead potted mum in your display does not give them
confidence. Mr. Barnett suggests guaranteeing products—such as
your cut flower bouquets —and posting that guarantee on your
SHOPABILITY Make sure all products featured in the
display are accessible to customers. Even if a display looks
fantastic, if shoppers can’t easily retrieve products from it,
it won’t be effective.
SIGNAGE Because such a display probably will be in
another department and staff won’t be on hand to answer
questions, make sure pricing is visible and clearly
LIMIT CLUTTER You normally want to display add-on items
with related products to increase sales, but do not do so in
such a display. Refer to add-on sales possibilities—such as
vases for cut Gladioli—in your signage and direct customers to
your department to purchase them. While there, shoppers may find
other items to purchase.
Display captures fall’s color, scents
When you are located in Florida, fall doesn’t just happen
without some help. The change in seasons is not as obvious as in
other parts of the country. You have to create the “fall”
atmosphere for your customers, especially when many are Northern
transplants who are used to seeing the fall colors emerge
Even those stores located in areas where fall occurs naturally
may find that Mother Nature doesn’t always present herself right
on time every year. You may have to start setting the mood in
your department before the first leaf falls.
Cathy Lillie, floral specialist for Publix Super Market No. 493
in Oviedo, Fla., says it is important to incorporate all the
colors and scents associated with the season into fall displays.
When she helped set up a fall display in the front lobby of her
rural store, she concentrated on helping her customers get “into
the swing of things” for fall.
She featured a scarecrow surrounded by bouquets of seasonal
flowers, potted mums, cinnamon brooms, pine cones, croton plants
and pumpkins. The display’s colors—browns, golds and
oranges—combined with the scent of cinnamon to put customers in
mind of fall.
One plus for Ms. Lillie was the display’s location. Although the
floral department is located toward the back of the store and is
not very visible when customers walk in, the display was set up
in the front lobby in front of the deli/cafÈ, where customers
typically gravitate when they enter the store.
Ms. Lillie credits some of the success of the display to the
fact that, for her older customers, it brought back memories of
roadside stands where farms sold excess crops. She says products
in the display sold well. In fact, she had to refill the fall
bouquets several times. A customer favorite was the Alstroemeria
TRANSITIONING The display stayed up from mid-September
until right after Thanksgiving. Therefore, Ms. Lillie faced the
challenge of transitioning it from early fall through Halloween
and into Thanksgiving.
Early in the season, she played up football because of the
success of an area college team. She added balloons that were
custom-printed for the local team, a new product for her store.
For Halloween, she switched to ghost balloons and incorporated
Halloween plush, caramel apples and pumpkins. As Thanksgiving
approached, she replaced these with turkey balloons, Indian
corn, gourds, plants decorated for Thanksgiving and cornucopia
FLEXIBLE MERCHANDISER The design of the merchandiser
itself helped it transition through the season. At the base, Ms.
Lillie placed several pallets covered in burlap. Around them,
wooden crates created different levels for positioning product.
When turned on their sides or upside down, they became tables.
When turned right-side-up, the crates could hold products inside
them. Ms. Lillie also used round bean crates covered with red
Mylar film to hold the orange-cinnamon scented pine cones,
cinnamon brooms, gourds and miniature pumpkins. As Thanksgiving
approached, she turned the bean crates over and placed
arrangements on them.
LIGHTHEARTED FUN The most effective displays usually
provide customers with a bit of entertainment. Ms. Lillie added
some fun by pulling the scarecrow out of storage and naming him
“Nardo” after the assistant produce manager. She says the
customers “got a kick out of it.”
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