UK: Gardening grows Christmas cheer in tough times

The positive relationship people built with gardening as they navigated lockdown continues to flourish as temperatures drop.   

Almost three million new people took up gardening during 2020 and as their enthusiasm to continue with their new-found hobby shows no signs of slowing, garden centres are seeing this interest translate into sales says the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA).  

In its Market Update for December, the trade body for the UK garden industry, found garden centre sales in November were 11% up on November 2019. This was driven by exceptional garden/gardening category sales that finished the month 60% up on November of last year. Non-garden/gardening ranges also showed good signs of recovery despite the closure of cafes and restaurants, helping calendar year to end of November comparisons finish -10% down on the same period of 2019. 

Average transaction values were up 51% (excluding catering) compared with November 2019 showing consumers may be spending more when they shop to avoid leaving the house more times than necessary. Hardy plants, shrubs and trees, and plant care products have performed particularly well. 

Christmas sales were up 47% on November 2019 levels suggesting people may have been turning to garden centres to begin their Christmas shopping, and the festive mood is continuing into December following the Government’s announcement that garden centres can hold Christmas grottos in England so long as robust COVID-19 procedures are in place and are prescribed in Scotland according to the tier system.  

Catering typically makes up 21% of turnover in November amongst garden centres with a catering offer; so, with cafes and restaurants forced to close once again, overall catering sales have been hit, and were down -83% on November 2019 levels following closure part way through the month of November. 

David Denny, HTA Futures and Sustainability Manager, comments: “Our members across the supply chain have made huge efforts to recover from the depths of lockdown in March, to support their customers and deliver sales growth across every month since May. Garden centres have invested in and provided first-class safe retailing environments for customers, who have been inspired to get into their gardens.  

"It is hugely encouraging with now over 25m gardeners in the UK there seems to be no let-up in their interest in gardening. We shouldn’t underestimate the difficulties a 10% year to date fall in sales compared with 2019 brings to the sector. However sustained consumer interest in gardening helps to provide a strong basis for the sector to build on and be an economic driver for the UK economy. We recognise the responsibility we have in being able to trade when others cannot and how this continues to be a difficult time for the wider retail industry and society in these constrained times. With consumer confidence at a historic low we are pleased our sector can bring some joy at Christmas during these tough times and help consumers to celebrate and feel good going into 2021.” 

HTA Market Update is available free for members to download from the HTA website, by logging in and visiting the Market Update page. 

For more information:
Horticultural Trades Association
Horticulture House
19 High Street
West Berkshire
T: +44 (0)118 930 3132
Fax: +44 (0)118 932 3453
NGGV: +44 (0)118 930 2092

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