Walmart's "Black Friday" of garden supplies: More than a marketing ploy

People wait to pay for their purchases at a Walmart in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles on Black Friday, November 29, 2013.

Yesterday was the official start of Spring and to mark the occasion, Walmart is launching a “Black Friday”-like sale for outdoor items. Black Friday, of course, kicks-off the Christmas shopping season and it’s when retailers make most of their profits. But is there really a Black-Friday-like demand for gardening and outdoor supplies in the spring? 

"The spring selling season is the most important season for homecenters when you talk about Lowes and Home Depot," said Drew Reading, a homecenter analyst at Bloomberg Industries.

"Last year, Home Depot’s seasonal business was about 30 percent of their total sales for the year," Reading said. People are buying "things like outdoor power equipment, you know lawn mowers, live plants, patio sets and bar-b-ques."

Laura Kennedy, an analyst at Kantar Retail, said consumers spent about $30 billion dollars on these items last year. She adds that Walmart’s Spring sale isn’t new, Lowes and Home Depot have had similar sales for years now. And they have a loyal base.

"I believe Home Depot said that they’re top garden customers visit four times as often as their other shoppers and so they’re really in with the serious gardeners," she said. 

Kennedy doesn’t think Walmart wants to be a heavy weight in the home improvement business. Instead, it wants to pick off customers, who come in for the Spring deals, and hopefully get them hooked on buying other stuff.

About the author

Queena Kim covers technology for Marketplace. She lives in the Bay Area.

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