According to the March Market Update report from the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), garden centre sales received an early boost in February 2023, showing the value consumers place on their gardens despite challenging financial times.
The report shows that sales of seeds and plant care products were up 28% and garden tools up 23% compared to February 2022. Catering also saw a significant increase of 21%, offering consumers a small treat amidst the tough economic climate.
Dry conditions in February may have helped encourage consumers to think about their gardens earlier than normal. However, this comes with caution and questions, not least over the need for horticulture businesses – from retail to grower – needing to be prepared for more frequent drought conditions.
February 2023 was the driest in 30 years, leading to lower reservoir levels and concerns for longer-term drought prospects over the summer. Without grants to support reservoir improvements and water-saving innovations, the changing climate remains a critical concern for environmental horticulture.
Fran Barnes, HTA CEO, said, “As we enter into Spring, we’re delighted to see a growing interest in garden centre retail, not only in increased spending on gifts and café visits but also in core gardening supplies. It’s heartening to see that people recognise the many benefits of gardening, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, which prompted many to take up this hobby, love their gardens and appreciate the benefits of environmental horticulture.
However, we remain mindful of the pressures on wage bills, looming utility price hikes, and longer-term concerns about drought. We were disappointed that the Spring Budget did not address the pressing issue of water scarcity, which poses a significant threat to the industry. It’s important that the government takes immediate action to raise awareness among both businesses and consumers about the importance of conserving water and building drought resilience. We urge policymakers to support measures that encourage water use reduction and ensure the gardening industry’s long-term viability.”