If you’re guessing it was Popeye’s or KFC that sold at least half of their 11 million chickens last year to new customers, you’d be clucking up the wrong retailer.
That’s because the correct answer is that it was Tractor Supply
, the rural lifestyle operation retailer that has been the beneficiary of the migration of millennials out of the cities and into the country.
In reporting comp store sales up 38.6% and total revenue up even more, 42.5%, last quarter Tractor Supply CEO Hal Lawton ( who has to thank his lucky search firm stars that he took this job from his former position with Macy’s
16 months ago) pointed to this pandemic-influenced effect as a driver of its business. That includes all of those chicken sales to newly transplanted suburbanites who were fed up with urban living and wanted some wide open spaces…comparably anyway. They were responsible for “a very large increase as a percentage of our sales,” he said. And he doesn’t expect this to be a temporary diaspora either. “We believe the growth in this customer segment has staying power and could be a structural game changer for us.”
By its name, not to mention the stereotype city dwellers might conjure up upon hearing it, Tractor Supply is often pigeonholed as a place to buy farming equipment, animal feed and all of the other minutiae one needs for your spread out on the prairie. But a walkthrough of the store shows it also has a fair share of Green Acres-esque lifestyle merchandise, including backyard gardening, outdoor patio furniture and food and paraphernalia for creatures decidedly smaller than cattle and horses…namely dogs and cats.
As such it seems to be perfectly situated right now for the way people are living during the pandemic and may choose to continue living post-pandemic too. While there’s no denying there has been a legitimate move out of inner cities, Tractor Supply’s recent rush seems to also be the result of existing suburbanites spending more time home and forsaking larger stores to fix up backyards and gardens. The big surge in pet ownership no doubt has helped as well.
Tractor Supply has referred to all of this as the “Out Here” lifestyle but whatever you call it, it’s working for the retailer. Its 2000 stores will be joined by 80 more this year, it says.
Enough to make even the Colonel himself jealous.