Retailers continue to discover that featuring strawberries is a good way to lure shoppers to their produce departments.

Circus Fruits Inc. in Brooklyn, N.Y., attracts a wide range of ethnic consumers, but they all seem to have one thing in common: “Everybody loves strawberries,” said owner Antonio Loverde.

About 80% of the store is devoted to produce, but the market also offers a limited selection of groceries and other items.

“We try to accommodate everyone,” he said.

Loverde tries to keep prices affordable, and he finds that, to a large degree, price helps determine strawberry movement.

Strawberries typically rank among the top 10 best-selling produce items in the summer, he said, but they move into the top five when the price is right.

Loverde usually sells a 1-pound clamshell of strawberries for $1.49-$1.99, but when they go on ad for 99 cents about once every three weeks, movement is “incredible,” he said — sometimes twice as much as usual.

“We try to be competitive,” he said.

Retailers leverage the lure of the strawberrry

Circus Fruits offers its customers a variety of packaging to choose from.

They’ll find 1-, 2- and 4-pound clamshells as well as pint containers and strawberries with stems attached, which tend to sell better on special occasions, like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.

The 1-pounders are by far the easiest to sell, he said.

The store almost doubles the size of its strawberry display during the summer, going from a 3- by 4-foot table in February to a 5- by 5-foot table in June.

One-pound clamshells also are the package of choice for John Pardini, produce manager at Big John’s Market in Healdsburg, Calif.

Big John’s doesn’t even offer 2- or 4-pounders.

“But that doesn’t mean we won’t have them in the future,” Pardini said.

Occasionally, though, the store offers loose strawberries, something few others do today.

“We do that once in awhile when the price comes down, the berries look good and we won’t get much waste,” Pardini said.

By early March, Big John’s already had featured strawberries on ad a couple of times this year, and Pardini said he features them once or twice a month during the summer.

Regular price for strawberries at Big John’s is $2.99. A typical ad price is $1.59.

“They go out pretty quick” when they’re on ad, he said.

Pardini sells three times as many strawberries in summer than he sells in winter, he said.

He displays strawberries on a 3- by 3-foot table and cross merchandises them with packaged shortcakes as well as larger cakes about 12 inches around.

“We do a lot of cross-merchandising here,” he said.

Sometimes he adds whipped cream to the display.

Big Al’s Market in Wheatland, Calif., is a relatively small store, so produce manager Darrell Tarrant offers only 1-pound clamshells.

Still, strawberries rank among the top five produce items, largely because of their taste and their year-round availability, he said.

From May to August, the store features strawberries on ad at least every other week, sometimes at prices as low as two or three for $1.99.

Tarrant cross-merchandises them with shortcakes and chocolate dip.

In the past, shoppers at Circus Fruits would show up with a list and pick up their favorite fruits and vegetables, Loverde said. In today’s economy, they’re more apt to buy what’s on ad.

In the end though, taste remains a deciding factor to consumers.

“If strawberries look good, they’ll buy them,” he said. “If they taste good, they’ll come back for more.”

Pardini attributes the nutritional value of strawberries with boosting sales at Big John’s.

“A lot of people realize (strawberries’) health benefits,” he said. “There are more (health-related) materials out there.”