I remember when…

I Remember When…

by Tim Quebedeaux

We all remember historic events that occurred in our lifetimes.  Whether it is 1945 when V-Day celebrated the end of WWII, 1963 when John F. Kennedy was assassinated, 1969 when man landed on the moon, or 09/11/2001 when the twin towers were bombed. I don’t think I will forget where I was and what I was doing during the pandemic of 2020. A key part of my memory will be the WDR. I was anxiously awaiting report after report every week to see what was happening. It was my weekly peak into what was going on across the country at Garden Centers, and the Mid-Year Report summed up what we all were seeing.

Let’s start with the obvious ones – at least after spring they were obvious. Everyone could feel the increased customer count, up 16.2% and almost all of us could see the extra dollars in the bank with revenues up 30.3%. But those numbers were a pleasant surprise when looking back at the weekly transaction counts and revenues during the spring.

Looking at revenues through Week 12 of the WDR, there was only one week that did not show an increase against 2019, that was Week 1.  Then weeks 13 – 17 we lost ground to 2019 every week, going from up an amazing 40.5% in week 12 to only up 6.7% in week 17.  The good news was that we were still up 6.7% to last year.  Never did revenues for the group drop below 2019 YTD numbers for any week, quite amazing for what was happening all around us.  That was from March 23rd till April 26th, and from there they kept on rising!

Similarly, transaction counts peaked early during week 8 at an amazing 145.4% against 2019, but then dipped down to below 2019 levels during weeks 16 and 17.  Where we were down -4.6% and -6.3% to last year YTD before starting the climb back up in week 18 with a 32.9% increase that week over last year.

We were never down to last year in revenues during that stretch when the transaction count dipped below 2019.  Why?  Average Sale held us up during that stretch.  From week 12 to week 19, we saw Average Sales increases over 20% each week compared to same week last year.  The year to date number peaked at 17.8% over 2019 during week 18 before ending up at 13.0% improvement over last Mid-Year.

During this Spring we heard story after story of amazing record-breaking sales, being done in less than ideal situations with less than ideal staffing. One number a lot of people were anxious to see was the YTD labor to sales percentage. On the weekly WDR, that percentage is measured every time, to give you a gauge of where you are YTD. This Mid-Year report, that number came in at 16.9%.  What does this tell you? Can we do more with less?

The last part of the Mid-Year, that I was anxious to see, was the sales percentages by category. What were we selling during this crazy spring? Did those numbers line up with what you saw or expected? They surprised me by showing that we were selling what we normally sold. Some Centers reported selling more (a lot more) vegetables and fruits. We all heard and felt the run on soils and mulches. Those percentages moved a little, but not as drastically as I thought they would. As Garden Centers, we were selling garden center material and as we could get it to sell, it was selling. 

This has been an amazing preview of how the year went and is going. At the end of the year we will have a similar Year End special report, and I hope all 102 Garden Centers in the WDR will report, so that we can capture this historic data. Overall, we are seeing amazing numbers during this historic “asterisk” year as Steve Bailey refers to it. So many conversations will come about from these numbers. So many memories, can you imagine yourself in years to come…

“Remember when we had a pandemic in 2020?  It was a crazy year! We ran out of toilet paper, soils and mulch…”

Got questions or need more information about The Group's the Weekly Department Review (WDR) or Annual P&L Study? Give Tim or Steve a call or email.

Tim Quebedeaux
Cell: 770.355.6249

Steve Bailey
Cell: 618.521.5225


Tim Quebedeaux and Steve Bailey with RetailKPI Consulting are service providers for The Garden Center Group and manages all Group financial sharing programs. The Weekly Department Review (WDR) and The Annual P&L Study are industry exclusives developed by The Garden Center Group and are included in your retainer!

REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Tim Quebedeaux, Steve Bailey, Robert Hendrickson, Sid Raisch, Jean Seawright, and John Kennedy are included in your retainer! So what are you waiting for? Take advantage of all that The Group has to offer and give them a call or send an email now!

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