Tractor Supply's center store experiment

During the farm-and-ranch giant's second-quarter earnings call, CEO Greg Sandfort described the strategic importance of the chain's center court area and drive aisle.

The areas are honed to boost sales per square foot as they host special events and introduce new and seasonal products, Sandfort told investors.

"This not only enhances our customer shopping experience and expands the overall size of the customers market basket, but it also signals to our merchant teams what products our customers have the most interest in purchasing as we build forward assortments," he said.

Sandfort pointed to a garden event promoting seasonal commodities such as seed, soil and fertilizers, and a "Chick Days" supplying merchandise for raising poultry. 

"Both of these planned events performed well, delivering results above the prior year," Sandfort said.

During the second quarter, Tractor Supply posted a sales gain of 12.7% to $1.46 billion.

Sandfort also described plans for a new format around the left hand side of the store layout. "We are expanding what we call the hardware set and we're revamping it," he said. 

Tractor Supply will move several hundred stores into this "new format" this year, he added. "We've tested it for a few years now, we're happy with the results and you will see the left-hand side changing a bit.

Merchandise tweaks are also continuing in the automotive, truck and tool arena in the back of the store, he said.