Once ‘All Saints Day’ has passed, the Christmas department takes over in garden sales points. And this year, with inflation, will customers celebrate Christmas as usual?
With a little less money, will consumers avoid the Christmas depertment? How to react and anticipate?
A little history will go a long way. 2023 years ago… No, not that story! The history of the Christmas department is not that old, it began in the 1990s. Before, we called it the “glitter” department. The department, what am I saying? It was barely 2 linear meters squeezed between watering and pesticides. At the time, the supplier was called Droguet and he took back unsold items… Great. Super yes and no besides, the points of sale didn’t make any effort, the products were sparkling but very… basic. And the supplier did not last long at this rate; its liquidation took place in 2001.
We still felt the passion that this department exuded, both for the distributor and for the consumer. In 1991, a trip to the United States served as inspiration. There, we discovered a real staging with themes, atmospheres, animations. The “glitters” took on another dimension. In the North of the USA, garden centers devoted their entire covered area to this department from October 15.
The concept was launched, on the way to a dream Christmas in all the garden centers in France!
Euphoria of greatness
Without reaching the size of Bronner’s in Frankenmuth, Michigan, the Christmas giant open all year round, our garden centers have pulled out all the stops. Every year, the teams bend over backwards to offer their customers a dream setting. More than all others, the Christmas department allows everyone to express a part of creativity. It is also an area that promotes solidarity and management. We have to work together for a month to bring joy to our customers, young and old… What a great challenge!On the product side, the “glitters” gradually disappeared, they were initially replaced by high-end accessories. Painted glass balls from Krebs and Sohn were all the rage. Then, we moved, slowly but surely, towards more exotic decorations, from China or elsewhere.Travel builds youth, that’s why buyers have remained so young!In this wonderful world, there was only one problem, and that was inventory. Management tends to catch up with our lyrical flights of fancy!It’s good to create a sensational decor, which attracts crowds, but you still have to manage to sell everything. Christmas stock is aging quite badly and many department managers and store managers have had their fingers slapped because of it!
Once out of the emotion, the Christmas department still has some accountability. We talked about stock control, which requires careful purchasing, a good understanding of consumer trends and perfect knowledge of year N-1.Then there is the margin that goes hand in hand with competition. Today, with the growing number of more or less well-known Christmas markets and a huge choice on the Internet, there is plenty to enjoy. Online balls are cheaper than in-store balls… Bad Balls!It is therefore prudent not to offer unreasonable prices just because there is no reference price.The customer will come to the point of sale to dream, provided that said point of sale offers a magical space!Christmas decoration purchases are estimated at 63 euros per inhabitant (in France). Still according to the Leclerc 2021 observatory, 41% of households install the entire house with a tree, decorations, Advent calendar, etc.A big downside is that 68% of them wonder where all these Christmas decorations are produced and keep a close eye on the provenance, hoping for local ones.
How to do
If the dream and magic of Christmas must operate in stores to attract consumers, a bit like life, it is not at any price.Our consumers want spectacular, but spectacular local. And if this is not always possible, why not create workshops like the Tarnaise garden center offers, with, for example, ideas for dried orange garlands.With inflation and the rejection of imports too far away, home-made products are popular among our fellow citizens. You might as well offer something to decorate the tree at home and bounce back with accessories for sale.If we must keep the high end which is used as much for word-of-mouth communication as for sales for high professional social strata, the price is still important.You can find decorated 60 cm trees for around ten euros on the Internet. We must know how to go upmarket, but also go down in price.Many sites explain how to make a good meal for less than 5 euros, when will decorating the living room cost less than 10 euros?
To stay attentive
This Christmas department requires a lot of energy, time and financial resources, the first instinct would be to go softer.But if families come to our garden centers during this period, which is a little less dynamic than spring, it is also to be amazed and… To consume in passing, as long as we give them the opportunity.63 euros for Christmas decoration, as we have said, and this average is falling. At the same time, they spend 371 euros on gifts, could this be a clue?And at the same time, 40% of French people are looking for low prices for Christmas decorations…So yes, we may have to reinvent the concept of the Christmas department!It’s at the end of the match that we will count the points! We’ll talk about it later…