Garden industry sales have dipped below £5bn in 2005 for the first time in four years, according to the HTA’s latest Garden Industry Monitor (GIM). But plant sales held up, and sales overall leapt towards the end of the year, giving growers, manufacturers and retailers hope despite the gloomy news.
The HTA said the market fell by three per cent, after recovering from 12 per cent down in May, when sales were £230m less than the £1bn expected.
HTA director general David Gwyther said the industry turned over £4.9bn in 2005, which is the lowest figure since 2001. The figures are in line with Mintel’s estimate of a £5.18bn garden market in 2005, down from a high of £5.89bn in 2003.
Gwyther said the industry can no longer rely on TV programmes to promote the industry, particularly after presenter Monty Don’s latest outburst, attacking the trade’s promotion of new plants (see p12).
The GIM found that sales of manufactured goods such as outdoor furniture fell by 14 per cent but hardy nursery stock sales rose by two per cent.
HTA marketing director Lee Appleyard said this reflects marketing activities such as Plant for Life and gardeners buying “instant fix” big plants. Garden centres lost four per cent of sales to DIY stores, which made up ground through furniture sales late in the season. Appleyard added: “If it could go wrong, it did.”
He said the main problems were the lessening of the “Alan Titchmarsh effect” on sales, the end of the TV programme Ground Force, consumer garden media sales falling and consumer confidence being eroded.
Gwyther added that the downturn had resulted in mergers, closures, reducing cost bases and more proactive promotions.
He said: “Two bad seasons weatherwise on top of increasing interest rates have had a marked effect. In the coming season if the interest rates come down and there is better weather I would be reasonably hopeful.”
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