Fuel prices pose threat to retail

Rising travel costs may have an impact on frequency and focus of public visits to garden centres.

High cost of fuel leading to less frequent shopping trips. Image: HW
High cost of fuel leading to less frequent shopping trips. Image: HW

Garden centres could benefit from a change in shopping habits, with people shopping less frequently and more locally because of the high cost of fuel.

The latest data from retail analyst IGD's ShopperTrack study found that some 52 per cent of shoppers said they would shop less frequently if petrol prices continued to rise to save on the number of trips that they make.

Half plan to use shops nearer to them to use their cars less, while 41 per cent said that they will do more shopping in supermarkets with petrol stations because they offer cheap petrol.

Nearly a third (31 per cent) gave feedback saying they would also consider shopping more online to save on motoring costs.


- 47 per cent of shoppers said they would not spend less on groceries and petrol, but instead would find savings in other areas.

- 44 per cent said they would be more loyal to shops that offer petrol discount vouchers.


Gillie Westwood, chief executive, Garden Centre Association - "The internet will be the beneficiary because fuel costs are extraordinarily high. But I don't think garden centres will lose out because they have always been within the community and customers live within a certain distance. They are seen as more than just shopping outlets. They're a destination, so might benefit from fuel rises because people will see garden centres even more as a day out."

Dennis Espley, managing director, Squires - "Everybody is talking about it and even high earners are thinking before they make long journeys. I'm sure customers will tend to buy basic gardening needs at the nearest convenient outlet, providing it is good enough.

"They will travel further for better advice or an outing to a 'destination' - but will they go as often?"

Andy Bunker, partner, Alton Garden Centre - "I do not think it hits garden centres. However, because I'm spending a large amount of my time on the shop floor at this time of year, I am finding a much lower percentage of people who are just lookers. That leads me to say I feel it is of benefit to the business, especially where garden centres do not have large car parks."

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