Many imports have risen 10% or more since the UK voted to leave the European Union because of the fall in the value of the British pound, and many manufacturers said they have not been able to pass on all the increases to retailers such as garden centres.
A GIMA Brexit discussion last month found that none of the 80 suppliers to garden centres believed they had benefitted from Brexit, which was voted for on 23 June 2016.
Glee asked a selection of its 2017 exhibitors for their views.
La Hacienda's Simon Goodwin said exchange rate driven costs of imported barbecues had risen 18-20%, while wholesale prices were up only 5-10%. Bulldog Tools said material costs were up 20% and trying to pass that on to garden centres and particularly big retailers was "not very positive". Hozelock's Chris Ramsden, the GIMA president, said raw material plastic prices which are up 5-10% also could not be passed on to the retailer.
But Glee exhibitors say promoting better quality, service and environmental benefits can outweigh any price pressures from consumers, as inflation rises.
Burgon & Ball managing director Heather Culpan said: "We believe that consumers still respond to the good, better, best range selection. It makes it so much easier for the customer to identify which range or brand is the right one for them; they feel very comfortable with it.
"And within that architecture, there is evidence that the market is experiencing a shift towards the higher end of the scale, revealing that the consumer buying decision is definitely not based solely on price. We often find ourselves selected as the ‘best’ offering in garden centres and we are definitely noticing that sales of our most premium products are rising strongly. Many of our top-end large digging tools, for example, have seen year-on-year growth in excess of 30% in the last year.
"The conclusion we have drawn is that there is a distinct move towards more considered purchases. People are thinking about the money they are spending, and want to invest in high quality tools and equipment that will last for years. We believe our customers are giving their purchase careful consideration, and viewing it as a good investment for the future, rather than going for a ‘throwaway’ option."
Jackie Eades, director of Briers said: "It would be wrong to think that all consumers have the same basis for making a decision to purchase. Price is most definitely a consideration, as we want to feel that our purchase is a good price for the quality and fit for the job they need the product to do. For some the bargain mentality is very much evident but many prefer to take a long-term view, believing that a better quality product will deliver a better long-term investment return.
"For Briers, our consumers show that the trust they have in our brand is a major reason to purchase as essentially Gardening Gloves are a PPE product, so our quality and product testing are vital to them, other considerations being comfort and design (both product and surface). Good customer service support to back up the products is also essential with a well-trained customer focused team."
Dalefoot Composts co-owner Simon Bland said: "We find gardeners are willing to pay a little more for a product if they understand the quality of the ingredients and the benefit they bring to their plants and the environment. Our composts are made from totally renewable resources with great environmental benefits. The natural water retention of wool means up to 50% less watering for your plants and wool provides a steady, slow sustained supply of nitrogen. High levels of natural potash from the bracken promotes flowering and fruiting, so healthy growth and hearty crops, and no need for any additional plant food."
Woodlodge said: "With over two thirds of British adults visiting a garden centre every year, having products at appropriate retail prices is a must to help drive sales. Products must have a unique selling point: be it quality; originality or the right price point. Gardening does not have to be an expensive hobby, unless you want it to be.
"Whilst developing our ranges we have to ensure that our products are at the right prices without compromising their quality. Having a wider variety of containers in our range helps garden centres to choose products at a selection of price points that appeal to their local demographic.
"High-end, branded products have proven popular and consumers are often happy to pay a little more when searching for specific items. Whether you are looking for a small, plain terracotta pot or a large, decorative, Heritage Garden planter, often purchasing a handcrafted container to complement your garden for years to come is priceless."
Erica Adam, export manager at OutTrade BV/ Pharao, added: "The span between high-end products and low-budget is growing in line with the demographic figures – the span between the rich and poor. Changing and decorating your garden on a yearly basis is possible through affordable products, clearly shown in the increase numbers of garden products displayed in discounters. The stability of high-end gardening stores proves the other end – the continuous popularity of high-end products.
"With Pharao products we develop products together with our customers; whether a gardening store, DIY or hard-discount. Tailor-made offers combine affordability without losing on design or quality."