According To Hewson ... Plan ahead to boost autumn plant sales

Stop me if I've told you this before, but autumn is the best time to plant nursery stock.

Yes, I know it's midsummer and there are better things to do than think about short days and chilly nights, but it's time to plan ahead to boost sales. They need a good kicking given the seriously dodgy year so far.

Great to see the HTA is now at it with the splendid "Plan it Plant it" autumn campaign following the success of last year, when garden retail grasped the nettle and downloaded some excellent point-of-sale content to kick-start its sales initiatives.

HTA research shows that 41 per cent of gardeners mistakenly believe fruit trees and berries should be planted in spring, while 45 per cent think spring-flowering bulbs should also be planted then rather than autumn.

Internet sales also have a part to play, but we need to drive more footfall in store and for longer periods across the year. We are so ridiculously dependent on spring sales in garden retail it's not true - and we pay such a heavy price when the weather is poor.

There are heaps of unspent £50s burning large holes in deep pockets and autumn is the time to pounce before winter hibernation. Even gorgeous George (chancellor, not future king) is cheering up as recent figures show growth on the up at last and the IMF has now upgraded its growth forecast to just shy of a whopping one per cent for this year.

According to one leading economist, all main sectors of our economy (services, manufacturing, construction and, believe it or not, agriculture) are "firing at once" - and there is nothing quite like a new royal arrival to boost the national mood and instil that much needed feel-good factor.

So, after a troubled start on all fronts, there is much to brighten our mood. Autumn sales won't happen overnight. It's a generational-cum-cultural thing and it may take a decade to become the norm, but let's be positive and build on last year. After all, there's no shortage of great-looking stock out there.

Andrew Hewson is a freelance writer and columnist.

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