Garden retailers attending the HTA’s Retail Management Group (RMG) meeting reported that on average sales were around 10 per cent up on last year. This is supported by figures from the HTA’s Garden Industry Monitor Retail Business Benchmark Survey which also show that garden centre and nursery sales are up 10.2% for the last quarter (March-May), compared with the 2.4% increase experienced by the retail sector as a whole for the same period (British Retail Consortium data).
Chairman of the Retail Management Group, Caroline Owen, said, “Many garden retailers cut their costs earlier in the year in anticipation of tough times ahead. Now with an excellent sales season margins are currently looking very good. However, there is still concern about how this might be sustainable as the recessionary effects on the buying public begin to bite deeper.”
Retail members reported that grow your own continues to be a major driving force for sales. Pester power, in particular, is noticeable, as children who have become involved in gardening at school bring their parents into garden centres in order to replicate their efforts at home. Schools are investing heavily in gardening materials from their local garden centres and many are establishing closer links through providing materials and advice. The ‘added value’ of grow your own is evident with one garden centre reporting that the sale of a £1.99 packet of runner bean seeds led to a customer spending more than £100 on pots, canes, composts and other sundries!
One recessionary effect that is having an impact on garden centres is a rise in the amount of theft taking place – from staff and customers. Alongside the usual games of swapping price labels and similar antics there has been an increase in the number of professional gangs operating in the sector. Products particularly prone to theft include CDs, books, giftware and candles. There have also been a number of overnight thefts from plantareas which are thought to feed local car boot fairs. The group welcomed the recent HTA crime survey which is currently underway with B2B Links, the HTA’s security partner, to explore how crime is affecting HTA members and to investigate the measures taken by members to tackle crime.

Tel: +44 (0)118 930 3132
www.the-hta.org.uk
Gift Vouchers – www.thevouchergarden.co.uk
APL – www.landscaper.org.uk
PlantforLife – www.plantforlife.info