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HTA: March Garden Centre Sales Boosted By Early Easter

HTA April 2024

Today, the Horticultural Trade Association (HTA) released its April 2024 Market Update, showing that despite another wet and rainy month in March, garden centre sales surged by +22% compared to March 2023, helped by the earlier Easter. Catering sales were also up by +17%. Consumer confidence also remained stable from February, showing a +15-point increase over March 2023.  

Fran Barnes, Chief Executive of the HTA, commented:

“Wet weather continues to dominate this year's narrative, presenting historically wet and dull conditions, with 127% of the long-term average rainfall across the UK. Although drier and sunnier than in March 2023, the month posed challenges to crop production. However, we saw garden/gardening categories and non-garden/gardening categories with food-related categories such as catering and food & farm shop contributing greatly to these sales percentages, doing impressively well last month, up +17% and +32%, respectively, compared to March 2023. Footfall was also strong for both comparisons between March 2023 and March 2022. This was likely helped by Mother’s Day sales and the Easter bank holiday falling almost a month earlier this year. Nevertheless, the weather still dictated the trends with notable variation amongst retailer sales, aligned with weather variations in different regions of the UK.

"All reported garden/gardening categories were up on March 2023. Core garden categories, such as Bedding plants and Hardy plants, benefited from the Easter trading period, with sales up +43% and +38%, respectively, compared with March 2023.  However, this was not reflective of comparisons to March 2022, when the weather was much more favourable. All categories were down except for indoor plants, which were up +13% compared to March 2022. Year-to-end of March comparisons were also positive. The top 3 performers were bedding plants (+25%), bulbs and outdoor containers (up +20%). However, we should expect some year-to-date sales comparison rebalancing in April once the impact of an earlier Easter is removed. 

“In addition, catering sales continue to experience notable growth, up +17% from March 2023, and consumer confidence remained stable, stalling at -21 points but maintaining a notable +15 points above March 2023 levels. This underscores positive consumer sentiment amidst economic uncertainties.

“Oil prices have crept up once again as the situation in the Middle East remains uncertain, and crude oil prices have increased in response. Shipping container costs are still considerably higher than in the same period last year but are on the decline.

"Looking ahead, as reported last month, we are still expecting significant challenges for the industry with the impending changes on 30 April to imports from the EU, including the introduction of Border Control Posts and switching off the Point of Destination checks that currently happen. This puts huge pressure on our members to ensure a steady supply of plants available within garden centres at a suitable price point. We continue to lobby hard on this issue and keep our members informed.

“In the meantime, at the time of writing, we hope improved weather will drive expectations of increased consumer activity in the coming months, peak gardening season. The garden industry is in a good position as we enter the second quarter of 2024.”

The HTA report offers key insights and strategic recommendations for retailers navigating the market landscape. Members can read the full report on our website.

Source : HTA

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17 April 2024

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Thank you for the excellent presentation that you gave at Woodbury Park on Thursday morning. It was very interesting and thought-provoking for our Retail members. The feedback has been excellent.

Martin Elliott. Chief Executive - Home Hardware.

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