Yes, rainy weekends are sales killers. But do they have to be?
What if rainy weekends presented garden center retailers and customers a unique opportunity, one unlike the experience shopping for plants on sunny Saturdays and Sundays?
Those questions flowed through my mind after hearing John Gaydos, director of product development and promotion for Proven Winners, address an audience during his Friday session titled "Trends You Can Bank On." Gaydos mentioned several industry trends growers and retailers should capitalize on, including staycations, vegetables, home investments, locally grown products and community involvement.
Weather isn't a trend. It's always going to affect us one way or another. But what if retailers offered customers special discounts on rainy Saturdays and Sundays? I'm not thinking 25 or 50 percent off product, particularly during the heart of spring. A small 5, 10 or 15 percent discount could, however, motivate customers to get off the couch during the most miserable weather and buy product that typically would still be on garden center shelves come Monday morning.
Discounts for shopping in rain, you're thinking? Is it risky? Crazy? The initial thought sounds crazy, but there's no better time to take risks then when stakes are low and retailers are assuming little to no sales anyway.
Still, if you offer special rain discounts, shoppers will simply wait for rain to shop. Right?
Not necessarily. Not if you take this approach during the week leading up to potentially rainy weekends. "If it rains this Saturday or Sunday, customers will receive an X percent discount off Y plants."
Yet another question enters the equation, though: How do retailers judge the rain? Does a five-minute shower equal a discount? Does drizzle? Does thunder and lighting? You be the judge of that, set a standard and stick to it.
Retailers would, of course, have to promote the idea heavily. If it doesn't initially work, make an adjustment. And if it ultimately doesn't make sense, you tried.
Great weather has always been the No. 1 driving factor for garden center sales, and that fact won't change anytime soon. But retailers can make the garden center a destination even in bad weather, and if they can prove a plant purchased in rain is the same as the one purchased in sun, maybe they finally put a chink in Mother Nature's armor.
Then again, maybe not. But why should retailers lie down every time rain clouds the weekend? They shouldn't. Instead, they should try taking the approach that rain, snow or shine are all factors that drive customers to purchase plants.
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