Editorial September/October 2005

September 29, 2005
Written by Anja Sonnenberg
The cost at the pumps is more than just the cost of crude oil – remember that taxes are one of the largest components of Canadian retail pump prices.  In 2004, Canadians paid on average 31.9 cents tax on every litre of gasoline.  That represents almost $16 on a 50-litre fill.  Tax levels vary by province, often leading to regional differences in pump prices, but as we watch the cost of a tank of gas consistently rise across the country, it doesn’t matter where in Canada you live. 
Feeling the Pinch at the Pumps?

The cost at the pumps is more than just the cost of crude oil – remember that taxes are one of the largest components of Canadian retail pump prices.  In 2004, Canadians paid on average 31.9 cents tax on every litre of gasoline.  That represents almost $16 on a 50-litre fill.  Tax levels vary by province, often leading to regional differences in pump prices, but as we watch the cost of a tank of gas consistently rise across the country, it doesn’t matter where in Canada you live. 

We’re all feeling the pinch at the pumps, but as a retailer whose reputation depends on how you service your customers, filling the tank of your delivery vehicle probably feels more like a suffocating squeeze, then a pinch.  During the busy spring rush, customers want their purchases delivered quickly so they can plant, assemble, and enjoy their newly bought items, but how cost effective is it to have daily deliveries?    By consolidating trips or routing deliveries differently, you can ease the impact of high fuel costs.  Avoid rush hour and encourage your drivers to take fuel efficiency measures such as not letting the trucks idle for long periods. Share your fuel conservation plans with your customers – they will be impressed that you’re showing an interest and making an effort to maximize your fuel consumption.  And for those customers who insist they have their items delivered on a day when you don’t have a delivery scheduled, offer them the service – for an increased fee of course.

Customers are also feeling the pinch at the pump, and although they would prefer to drive the extra 20 minutes to your garden centre to browse and shop, after spending $40 for a tank of gas, they may change their mind and decide to pop into the grocery store’s garden centre around the corner.  In large urban areas, seasonal garden centers seem to sprout in every grocery and do-it-yourself store’s parking lot during the gardening season.   We’ve all heard that the key to survival in this industry is to create a destination garden centre where people will flock to shop, but for the experience as well.  This gimmick to attract customers becomes more important with the increasing cost of travel.  You can expect customers within a ten minute drive to come see you, but you need to entice potential customers from further away to make the trip worth their while.  Give them coffee shops, cafés, seminars, workshops, landscaped gardens, playgrounds, seasonal events – anything and everything to attract them to your garden centre; it won’t be in vain.  They’ll have a great time and they’ll tell all their friends and family about it.

Many service stations recently shattered the $1-per-litre mark in Canada, which drivers had feared and analysts predicted was inevitable.  The new price left some service stations without room on their signs to properly display it.  The high prices at the pumps are causing everyone to reevaluate where they drive and where they shop.  Create a getaway for shoppers at your garden centre by offering them an oasis to relax and shop, and perhaps you’ll be able to help them forget the aggravating pinching at the pump.





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