Published on 6 - June - 2011
HTA report reveals healthy growth in garden marketPlant sales continue upward trend, boosted by GYO and a 'retreat to the home' mentality, while competition hots up between garden centres and DIY superstores.
According to this year's Garden Retail Market Analysis report, the market was worth £4.6bn in 2010 - a 2% increase on the previous year and a figure that has held steady around this mark for the past five years.
Plant sales have remained constant over the past five years, with bulbs and seeds showing increases, driven by continued consumer interest in grow your own. As a result, the seeds and bulb category grew in value from £351m in 2009 to £373m in 2010. This looks set to increase further, with half of garden owners intending to grow their own fruit, vegetables or salads in 2011 and 12% of these claiming to be 'first timers'.
In response to the recession, the British public was seen to 'retreat to the home', said the HTA, boosting sales of bedding plants and anything that would add colour to the garden.
However, the garden furniture market has reported a decline in value over the past five years, hit by a combination of online retailing and consumers 'shopping around' or delaying big-ticket purchases.
Competition in the garden retail market remains principally between garden centres and DIY stores, according to the HTA report. Garden centres tend to lead overall, with 57% of adults with gardens opting to buy plants or other garden products from garden centres. 42% said they bought from DIY superstores, while 28% of respondents bought gardening products from supermarkets and 23% visited retail nurseries.
However, it's a close call when it comes to consumers in the 25-39 age group, with 46% of shoppers in this bracket turning to the DIY chains for their gardening needs, and 45% buying from garden centres. It was a similar story in the 15-24 age group. However, this gap widens and garden centres take a greater lead with consumers over 40.
The market remains relatively fragmented, with DIY chains accounting for around a third of store numbers. Homebase takes the lead with 334 garden outlets, followed by B&Q with 321. DIY chain Focus operated 165 garden outlets in the UK, although, following its collapse, a number of these stores have been divvied up among its rivals, including B&Q. After this, the leading garden centre multiple, The Garden Centre Group, has 4.8% of stores at 119 but the HTA membership's profile suggests that the majority of outlets in the garden retail sector are made up of independents with one or two stores.
While consumer confidence remains at levels unseen since the economic crisis in 2007/08 and spending power set to decline further in 2011, the HTA believes there is potential for garden retailers to tap into. 53% of consumers now claim to enjoy talking about products of services they have used, especially if at a good or discounted price. The HTA believes garden retailers can utilise and tap into consumer's enjoyment of talking about gardening and bargains to create "word of mouth around garden products and outlets to drive footfall and purchase".
As a result, the association feels the importance of social networking sites and mobile internet technology should not be underestimated, especially as 69% of 35-44 year olds admitted to looking online first when they need information.
Summarising on the findings of the report, HTA market information manager David Denny said: "All in all consumers' interest in their gardens and garden products has remained substantial and, in spite of the gloomy state of the economy, there are many exciting opportunities out there. But capitalising on them will require ever more adaptability to consumers' wants and shopping habits. Success will depend on meeting different consumers' very different aspirations for their gardens at the right price and through the right communication channels."
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