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UK: Stormy October sees modest growth in garden center sales

The Horticultural Trades Association's (HTA's) newly released November Market Update shows, despite Storm Babet and the wettest October since 1998, that UK garden center retail saw positive trends in the last month.

Fran Barnes, Chief Executive of the HTA, said: "Despite the challenges posed by the wettest October in decades and shifting consumer trends, our industry stands strong and demonstrates its ongoing resilience. In the face of Storm Babet and economic uncertainties, October 2023 not only defied traditional sales patterns but marked a respectable +2% growth.

"With adverse weather conditions and the inherent limitations of October as a typically smaller sales month, the horticultural sector showcased a commendable +2% growth in overall garden center sales compared to the same period last year. This growth is particularly noteworthy considering plant sales suffered from the relentless rain but showed strong performance for year-to-date comparisons (Bedding was +12% and Hardy plants were +10%).

"The strength of our performance in plant care and tool categories, coupled with a slight increase in Average Transaction Values to £23.67, reflects sustained consumer interest in their green spaces. In the non-garden/gardening categories, catering soared at +19%, and food and farm shops also did well, up +9%, demonstrating that even the poor weather couldn't dampen the spirit of our garden centers as customers seek shelter and leisure in garden center cafes and restaurants."

Other updates of note include the Consumer Confidence Index experiencing a notable decline of -9 points to reach -30, reflecting consumers' cautious outlook amidst concerns about energy prices, fuel costs, and Christmas expenditures. The HTA recognizes these challenges and identifies that providing extra incentives for customers to visit during the upcoming festive season in November and December could be key to ensuring a vibrant end to the year.

This report is released ahead of today's (22 November) Autumn Budget announcement. The HTA submitted a number of tasks to the Chancellor for consideration, urging action on trade, peat-free transition, and SME support, all of which are vital to ensure environmental horticulture can continue to deliver its potential for the UK economy and environment.

Environmental horticulture – from gardens to full-scale landscapes in rural and urban areas – is a crucial part of the nation's economic and environmental landscape. Contributing £28.8bn to the UK economy, supporting 674,000 jobs, and playing a central role in underpinning the UK's environmental and net-zero goals.

HTA Members can read the full report on the website.

For more information:
Horticultural Trades Association

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