What is the future for bricks-and-mortar retail?

HW asked GIMA members what impact they think internet retailing is having on sales.

"Traditional garden centres and destination garden centres have the advantage over the internet in that you can't eat coffee and cake on the internet and you can't chat about plants on the internet.

"In a garden centre you can browse. Our core garden consumers with more time want to spend time in good retail outlets. Independent garden centres create authentic individual branding.

"People like to say they are going to Woodlands or Webbs or Longacres. It is more difficult for internet retailers to create brand loyalty."

- Jane Lawler, head of marketing, Gardman

"We expect to double sales this year. It's silly season - and things are going mad.

"Everything is selling. We can't get enough powered machinery. We're trying to get lawnmowers from anywhere.

"Even garden furniture is starting to sell. And I'm just trying to source £1,000 of barbecue equipment for a guy in Ireland.

"With the internet, our advantage is that people look at price. They compare online who has got the cheapest price and it is usually cheaper than in the garden centre or DIY store. So why would they buy there?"

- Andy Baxter, founder, internetgardener.co.uk

"Online retail sales have been very busy this year with growth of seven per cent, according to Verdict. Online retailers have four per cent of the garden market and that is going to more than double in the next five years to nine per cent. I founded diy.com at B&Q in 1998 when none of us had any idea what we were doing.

"Half the customers were researching online and that's increasing. If people aren't shopping online they are researching. So you need to get your online presence absolutely right."

- Stephen Robertson, director, British Retail Consortium

"Plenty. Brits love shopping.

"There is plenty going on in retailing.

"Shopping is a social activity. Internet shopping will grow. But it will be at the expense of bricks-and-mortar retailers only where those bricks-and-mortar retailers allow it."

- Neil Gow, director, GIMA

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