Published on 15 - March - 2010
Gardening sector outstrips DIYRecession alters consumer mindset, boosting sales in the garden products sector, as homeowners opt for low-cost pastime and grow your own.
According to the latest research from Verdict, while discretionary spending has plummeted against a backdrop of rising unemployment, growing debts and the end of the credit-easy culture, a thriftier consumer is driving demand for gardening products.
Verdict retail analyst Joseph Robinson explained: "The impact of the recession on the consumer mindset will be a lasting fillip to the gardening sub sector. A heightened austerity is driving a trend towards 'grow your own', while the inexpensive nature of gardening as a pastime saw it grow in popularity amongst more frugal consumers. In addition, with more consumers choosing not to holiday abroad in 2009, the garden became an important social venue that merited investment."
Expenditure on gardening products rose 10% to £4bn in 2009, comfortably outstripping overall growth in the DIY and gardening sector. Verdict reports that growth in the market was entirely driven by gardening, with expenditure on DIY product declining by 3.1% to £8.7bn last year.
"The onset of recession served to compound the weakness in demand for DIY products that was already prevalent thanks to a depressed housing market and a general decline in consumers' affiliation with do-it-yourself", said Mr Robinson. He added that, while conditions were tough in DIY, everything "fell into place" for the gardening market in 2009 with the trend towards grow your own, favourable weather in spring and early summer, and an increasing number of consumers holidaying at home.
The gardening sector is benefiting from a number of trends at the moment – an ageing population, rising environmental concerns, the increasing popularity of garden centres and attempts by DIY superstores to mitigate the weak demand for DIY categories with a heavier focus on gardening.
Mr Robinson explained: "The recession has had a long-lasting implication on the consumer psyche. Consumers' frivolous spending habits have been replaced by a more measured and cautious attitude, with gardening one of the beneficiaries of this heightened austerity. As the ageing population takes their spending habits with them, this attitude will remain, which, coupled with an increasing concern for the environment, will help drive long term growth in the popularity of gardening and the garden as an extension of the home."
Garden centres have inevitably been the major beneficiaries of such positive growth and have improved their propositions to increase their destination status and offer an alternative to the DIY sheds and busy high street. The introduction of restaurants and other services help increase dwell times, while many centres are also diversifying into areas such as pet and bird care and general giftware, which offer good growth potential.
Meanwhile, with demand in core DIY categories still weak, Verdict believes the DIY sheds B&Q, Focus, Homebase and Wickes have positioned themselves to take advantage of the surge in demand for gardening products. At the start of the year B&Q announced that it had teamed up with celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh to help offer its customers more advice and a better service for customers interested in its gardening range.
Mr Robinson concluded: "DIY superstores have sought to lessen their exposure to weak DIY categories. While the British consumer may have somewhat fallen out of love with Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen's Changing Rooms-inspired home makeovers, the spirit of Alan Titchmarsh's Ground Force still lives on, and the DIY Superstores have sought to capitalise on this".
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