February saw garden centre sales grow earlier in the year than usual, according to the March Market Update by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA). It puts this partly down to dry conditions in February, which it says may have helped to encourage consumers to think about their gardens ahead of spring.
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%.
February 2023 was the driest in 30 years, though, leading to lower reservoir levels and concerns for longer-term drought prospects over the summer, which poses a “significant threat to the industry,” says HTA CEO Fran Barnes.
Whilst “delighted to see a growing interest in garden centre retail,” Barnes says the industry is cautious as the cost-of-living crisis continues.
“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.”