EL PASO, Texas (FNS) -- When week-long discounts off every item in the housewares section created a hit for Lomart IGA here, the price-reduction program was expanded to produce with similar results: increased sales at a flat time of year.
While other retailers were experiencing a downturn in produce sales after the holiday season, store owner Claude Lorey saw produce sales jump 50%. The independent's Produce Extravaganza, featuring 20% off everything in the department, was held during the first week in January.
Lorey told SN he needed something to spur interest in produce, where purchases typically slack off after the first of the year, when sales are off 30% from the summer season high. He found his inspiration with the store's established, bi-annual housewares extravaganza, which also features 20% off everything. The store has also been experimenting with various advertising and promotions for a year to evaluate which is best, "as opposed to just being a weekly ad-driven store," Lorey said.
The extravaganza's high profile captured new shoppers with low prices, and secured existing customers by casting the featured department as a destination. The timing was also appropriate, since New Year's marks the time when people have made resolutions about their diets and eating habits.
The promotion was supported by a full-page newspaper ad. In its inaugural run, it primarily fueled sales of the store's top sellers, such as 5-pound bags of potatoes displayed on a freestanding wooden Euro table, according to Lorey. There was "a little bit" of stimulation in sales of specialty produce -- which makes up 20% of Lomart IGA's department -- but not as much as Lorey had expected.
"In El Paso, specialties are barely catching on," he said.
Instead, specialty sales rise when the store's chef demonstrates how to use the new products. "He takes the intimidation out of specialty," Lorey said. Demos have included French green beans, white asparagus and sea beans.
Lorey said he hasn't decided whether the extravaganza will be a regular event, since the sale can impact gross margins.