Jeff Fairchild of New Seasons Market Discusses Holiday Merchandising
- by Anne Allen
PORTLAND, OR - The produce department is my first stop when I’m planning a holiday spread. Good holiday merchandising will draw my eye to flavor combinations I might not automatically make, as well as keep the staples close at hand. As shoppers like myself prep for holiday meals, we’re on the lookout for those category directors guiding our way. I turn to Jeff Fairchild, New Seasons Market’s Produce Director, to see how he approaches merchandising over the holidays.
“Produce flips so radically between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s like a light bulb goes off, and everything within the produce department flips from earthy tones to bright green,” Jeff shares. “People don’t stray too much during Thanksgiving, so they’re looking for staples like onions, potatoes, celery, yams, that sort of thing. And Christmas is completely different.”
Jeff notes that while many shoppers stick to tried and true classics during Thanksgiving, they’re more willing to experiment during Christmas.
“For Thanksgiving, people are going for tradition. For Christmas, it’s a celebration. There’s a sense of brightness, with the specialty citrus, berries, pomegranates, and asparagus. Products that may be a little over a shopper’s budget get into the basket because they’re willing to pay for celebratory moments,” he remarks.
As consumers move between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Jeff explains that keeping their interest peaked during that in-between month will bring them back to the store.
“Sometimes shoppers need a break from cooking, so they’re looking for products in value-add that offer convenience and ease,” he comments. “And as December goes on, there’s holiday parties to account for, whether it be party platters or dips and trays. Making the platter look good is key, so they’re after a nice selection of grapes or pears. There’s also gifting opportunities, as we’re hoping that shoppers will buy some of the nicely packaged Mandarins or premium apples and pears in nice formats to give as hostess gifts.”
Overall, Jeff sees the most opportunity for holiday merchandising during the weeks before Christmas—and I for one can’t wait to start shopping.