Mike Clark is already looking ahead to Christmas.
During Chicago-based True Value’s 2012 Spring Market general session last month, Clark, the co-op's senior VP and chief merchandising officer, told member retailers: "We know you're looking ahead to fall and winter and thinking about what's going to help you drive your sales."
LED lights are taking center stage in holiday lighting, he said, as the technology represents 35% of unit sales and 50% of dollar sales in the category. True Value also organized 4-, 8- and 12-ft. assortments for the Halloween season. Clark added that 56% of consumers say home improvement stores are their primary destination for holiday decor.
During his presentation in Orlando, Fla., Clark also said it was no accident that member retailers saw improvements in core categories. "The key is to maintain properly planogramed and updated assortments."
Bulbs were up 9% in the fourth quarter, cleaning chemicals were up 7%, and water heaters and accessories increased 3%.
Multiple assortment sizes are available in the co-op's Master Mechanic portable power tool offering, which has been picked up by about 1,100 dealers. Stores with the new assortment are running up 5% in sales, he said.
Plumbing assortments are also getting attention, where the merchandise team has built 75 unique fittings planograms.
An expanded farm and ranch business was also on display in Orlando. The co-op has 1,000 farm and ranch SKUs from 90 top vendors, he said. And they are now available in all 12 of True Value's distribution centers.
"We are committed to supporting farm and ranch retailers, no matter where they are located," said Clark, who pointed to the creation of a farm-and-ranch retailer council to provide guidance. "We are serious about this business."