The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) monthly market update for June records a significant boost in gardening-related sales during May. This year ranked as the seventh warmest May since records began in 1884, with longer periods of sunshine across the country creating plentiful opportunities for consumers to indulge in gardening activities.
Following wet and unsettled weather in previous months, the gardening season started later than usual. However, the favourable weather conditions contributed to an encouraging 13% increase in garden/gardening category sales compared to May last year. Garden centres have experienced a surge in demand as enthusiastic gardeners take advantage of the improved weather.
As we enter the summer, hosepipe bans are already being introduced; the HTA advises businesses to remain mindful of water levels and supply as potential heatwaves and drier weather set in for the summer. Responsible water use should be a priority for all stakeholders involved in horticulture to ensure sustainability and minimise environmental impact.
Overall, garden centre sales were up by 11% compared to May last year. Additionally, catering services have seen a 20% increase in sales, reflecting the growing footfall in garden centres and cafes. The combination of extra bank holiday weekends and improvements in weather has undoubtedly contributed to higher consumer engagement with horticultural activities.
Average Transaction Values (ATVs) have continued to show positive growth, with catering ATVs experiencing a 4% increase over May last year. Within gardening sales, the ATV reached £35.78, representing a 4% rise from May 2022. This increase in basket values may be attributed to plant recovery projects undertaken after the winter season, as sales of hardy plants performed particularly well at +38%.
According to GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index, consumer confidence has continued to rise, registering a 3-point increase from the previous month. However, fiscal concerns persisted in the minds of consumers during May. The Savings Index remained unchanged, indicating understandable caution in consumer spending habits. Despite these concerns, indicators of financial and general economic outlook showed modest progression, suggesting consumers hold hope for future improvements.
Fran Barnes, Chief Executive of the HTA, shared her thoughts on the latest horticultural sales report, saying: “After a slow start to the year and a late Spring, it’s fantastic to witness the gardening season finally arrive, with people returning to their outdoor green spaces. Whether they’re adding new colours and varieties or replacing plants damaged by winter frost, the mental and physical benefits of being in nature-based spaces, enjoyed by 30 million regular gardeners, are well established. It’s also crucial to recognise the multifaceted contributions of plants and trees as the weather warms up. They provide cooling and insulation, support flood control, improve air quality, and save around £250 million in energy costs and productivity gains through urban tree shading. With the horticultural sector employing nearly 700,000 people and contributing £28 billion to GDP, we must ensure that this value is acknowledged by all.
“The recent sentiments expressed by Defra Minister Trudy Harrison during the launch of the Environmental Horticulture Group highlighted the significance of a vibrant and thriving horticultural sector in achieving our biodiversity net gains. The feedback we receive from gardeners across the UK reinforces the invaluable nature of their green spaces, as evident in this month’s report.
“While this report brings positive news, we approach June with cautious optimism, mindful of potential challenges such as stock availability and water. The HTA, along with our members and industry partners, remains committed to rising to these challenges and supporting our customers in sustaining the choices they know and love.”
The full report is available to HTA members on the association’s website.