JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Florida supermarket chains took advantage of a state-mandated sales tax holiday to promote batteries, flashlights and other hurricane-related supplies from June 1 through 12.
Winn-Dixie Stores here and other chains featured flashlights, lanterns, candles, batteries and coolers more prominently than usual because those items were tax-exempt to help Florida residents prepare for hurricane season, which officially began June 1.
"We created signage to communicate to our customers which products were on the tax-free list," said Winn-Dixie spokeswoman Terry Derreberry. Flashlights, batteries and other items were featured at endcaps in some Winn-Dixie stores.
Accompanying signs warned shoppers, "Don't be left unprepared this hurricane season," along with information about the tax exemption. The chain sent about 15 or 20 hurricane-related signs to each store.
One Winn-Dixie store in the Orlando area featured the hurricane supplies endcap directly across from its pharmacy. Some items, including flashlights, were sold at their regular price, while others, particularly "C" and "D" batteries, were discounted.
While Publix Super Markets, Lakeland, Fla., did not run promotions specifically related to the tax-free holiday, it had "Publix Storm Ready" shelf-talkers in some stores, calling out products such as flashlights and batteries, and included information on the tax-free period in its weekly circulars.
Kash 'n Karry, Tampa, a Delhaize-owned company, also did not run specific promotions for the tax-free days. "It was promoted very well on its own in Florida. It has been all over the media. We just made sure our stores were stocked with those items, including flashlights, batteries and coolers," said Nicole LeBeau, Kash 'n Karry spokeswoman.
In addition to the tax-free promotions, some chains are providing other information on hurricanes to their customers. Albertsons' circular, "Big Book of Savings," which offers discounts on water, packaged deli meats and other items, also included the message, "Are you prepared? You can improve the odds of your home surviving high winds by taking these precautions..."
Winn-Dixie will have a brochure in its stores in late July, with information on hurricanes and tropical storms, along with a "hurricane tracker." Corresponding shelf talkers will identify products that consumers should include in a "hurricane kit."
Publix is also helping its shoppers prepare for the season. "Every year, prior to hurricane season, every store has a hurricane season site. In a smaller store, it might be an endcap. In a larger store, it might be a larger feature wall with generators, batteries, flashlights and other items," said spokeswoman Maria Brous.