Even though massive produce merchandising changes may not be considered necessary after the holidays, a clean, uncluttered appearance is a welcome change of pace. Further, reorganizing is synonymous with New Year’s resolutions — and increased produce consumption is at the core of every health and weight-loss resolution. So a subtle merchandising change is in order.

How soon should a produce manager remerchandise his or her department after New Year’s day?

Start FRESHTry Jan. 2.

This is when you’ll begin to see that your customers are looking at the produce department with new eyes. Their desires will seemingly change overnight from the holiday mode (surrendering to culinary indulgences) to getting reorganized with bold resolutions. Leading the list for many New Year’s resolutions is losing weight. Customers will shop your department with this in mind, as eating well is at the heart of reaching any better-health goals.

Here are three steps to achieving a completely new look in the produce department for January.


Resolve to reorganize the produce department

Many people begin the New Year with new calendars, new appointment books and a clean slate. Likewise, try to mirror these efforts. Begin by getting rid of all holiday-related décor. Everyone grumbles at the neighbor who waits until July to take down the outdoor Christmas lights. So be the first to make a clean sweep and remove any holiday-related signs, banners or posters.

Strive for the fresh, clean look — store or toss all those cardboard floor shippers. Try putting away other display or aisle obstacles that aren’t nailed down. Relegate those merchandising crates and even bushel baskets to storage — at least for the time being.

This revamping is easily transferred to stocking habits as well. Eliminate anything that makes stock levels look cluttered. Strive to hand-stack whenever possible, and keep displays neat, rotated, well-culled and level. Have your sign clerk do an extra-sharp job on matching the “clean” look: Replace old or worn paper signs with new ones, and ensure that every sign is clear, neat and straight, with hardware intact and no excess tape.

This is also an ideal time to put on an extra shine on everything. Post-holiday protocol requires an extra dose of cleaning. Make sure that the New Year’s look includes spotless mirrors, clean fixtures and daily attention to areas such as scales, wet-rack chrome and flooring.


Resolve to remerchandise

New Year’s shoppers depend on the produce department indirectly to help them with their weight-loss goals. Diet-related favorites include items such as leafy greens and head lettuce for salads, tomatoes, value-added vegetables and prepackaged salads, grapefruit, apples, bananas, grapes, and more. Take steps to make sure these items have increased facings and are prominently and neatly displayed. Unfortunately, many a produce manager is caught napping when it comes to anticipating post-New Year’s volume. Plan on at least a 10% (or more) sales increase the first week alone, and adjust orders accordingly as you get deeper into January. Many produce departments see quite robust volume increases of 20% or more during this time.

As you’re remerchandising, don’t underestimate the power of the silent salesman: signage. Consider enhancing the signs of your power items or diet favorites with starburst insets touting nutritional facts. For example, post something like: “Mangoes — Only 70 calories per ½ mango serving,” or “Potatoes, fattening? Try zero grams of fat and only 100 calories per medium potato.”


Resolve to merchandise aggressively

Even though the produce department is now free from clutter, that doesn’t mean that aggressive merchandising takes a back seat. Try building spillover displays, especially on evenings and weekends to promote the massive look and to help support holding power for higher customer traffic.

Push tailgate favorites for football bowl games. Avocados, tomatoes and chilies, along with cauliflower, broccoli and other vegetables for dipping (as well as jar dressings or mix-packets), are among the favorites for the weekend sports buffs.

Secondary or lobby displays do exceptionally well during January — especially if the items displayed have a healthy appeal and eye-catching, contrasting color breaks. Be sure to keep these displays culled, stocked and regularly straightened, along with clear signage and plenty of bags for shopping ease.

Sometimes, when it comes to merchandising, a “new” look is simply the absence of the previous look. A produce department doesn’t necessarily require massive, overnight resets or substantial remerchandising to ring in the new year. By simply removing holiday remnants and performing a thorough reorganizing, you’ll be amazed at how “clean and uncluttered” actually creates a new look — one that reflects customer resolutions and invites them to begin a new year in the produce aisle.