After an extremely tough winter and trading during the spring on a par with last year, HTA Retail Business Benchmark figures show garden retail sales slipped back in the third quarter leaving the industry 5.7% behind for the year ending September. There remains however all to play for as other HTA research shows 39% of garden centre visitors claim to be likely or very likely to visit their local garden centre specifically for their Christmas areas and ranges.
Meanwhile, the picture in the wider economy remains both precarious and uncertain as the impact of the recent comprehensive spending review begins to play out. Time will tell if the garden industry can withstand the cuts as well as it has endured the recession. The ‘retreat to the home’ that is often commented upon in line with the recession has visibly translated into increased footfall to garden centres with 62% of adults now visiting garden centres compared to 52% in pre-recession 2007.
The weather on the whole for 2010 has not been the best for the garden industry and Sally Cornelissen of Burleydam Garden Centre and the HTA Marketing Committee notes: “There is no doubt in my mind that recession has caused sales to plateau in the latter half. The run up to Christmas should be similar to last year if we keep our nerve. Consumers do tend to find that bit extra when it comes to the crunch and the appeal of a perfect Christmas is hard to resist.”
Whatever weather 2011 might bring HTA research suggests that in order to prosper, garden retailers must capitalise on the value of younger gardeners, and the strategies that are likely to meet their needs this Christmas and into next year.
Along with the figures from the HTA Retail Business Benchmark survey the HTA GIM Market Update presents data from the BRC KPMG Retail Sales Monitor and provides a summary of consumer confidence indices, UK house prices and weather data from the Met Office.
Free to HTA members the HTA GIM Market Update is published on a quarterly basis with the next edition available early next year. HTA members wishing to access the update should visit www.the-hta.org.uk/gim and click on the GIM Market Update tab.