Riggan says retailers should “do everything they can to look like a cherry destination,” including displaying cherries at the front of the produce department. He says a display with an 8-foot front and a depth of 3 to 4 feet is a good start.
Michael says there is a correlation between increasing shelf space and higher sales. When measured in terms of dollar sales per square foot of display space, cherries are the top produce item in July, he says.
“During the month of July, there’s probably not an item that’s more important,” says Roger Pepperl, marketing director for Stemilt Growers, Wenatchee.
Michael says 53% of cherry purchases are impulse buys, so displaying cherries in front and in multiple locations is key.
Shippers offer small units for secondary displays. Chelan Fresh’s smaller units hold 20 pounds of cherries, Riggan says. They can be placed near checkout lines to encourage impulse buys. Mast says some retailers achieved 30% to 100% increases in sales by placing secondary cherry displays near checkouts during the high-traffic period of 4-6 p.m.
In addition to expanded displays, Osowski says Martin’s Supermarkets’ produce managers make sure displays always look fresh and the fruit is good quality.
“We want to always make sure the customer has an excellent experience,” Osowski says. “As long as you give them (shoppers) large, high-quality cherries, they’ll come back all season long.”
Pepperl says Stemilt expects dark sweet cherries to be available from Southern California as early as April 30. Harvest moves north through California into the Pacific Northwest, where Stemilt’s late-season staccato cherries are expected to be available into September.
Other shippers say they expect Northwest cherries to be harvested from early June through August. Domex plans to promote its late deal in mid- to late August with Montana-grown cherries, says Howard Nager, vice president of marketing for Domex Superfresh Growers, Yakima.
Pepperl says rain and temperature fluctuations can affect sales plans, so it’s important to pay attention to sales people and weather advisories.
“Make sure your plans are not set in concrete,” Pepperl says.