Garden centre sales and confidence up but weather holds key to 2014 success says HTA

Garden centre sales in 2013 were six per cent up on 2012 and consumer confidence is at its highest for six years, according to the latest HTA market report.

However there are concerns that bad weather could ruin any advantage gained.

The February edition of the HTA Market Update, published this week, reveals that the garden industry is starting off 2014 on a much firmer footing than 2013.

In November sales were up 10 per cent and in December six per cent on the year before, buoyed by a strong performance in Christmas ranges.

Over the year landscaping products were up by 12 per cent, bedding plant sales were up five per cent and Christmas products up seven per cent.

Confidence among retailers also soared, with the highest confidence in three years recorded in the third quarter – the latest available data - of 2013.

The update says that the economy is now showing definite signs of recovery which bodes well for 2014 although there are still questions over how sustainable or strong the recovery will be.

"Consumer confidence is now at its highest level for six years and consumers’ willingness to believe that now is a good time to make major purchases has increased. Another encouraging sign if this willingness extends to major garden purchases or improvements," a HTA representative said.

The report also previews eyetracker research which shows how consumers scan bedding displays, showing how colour blocking and well thought-out plant displays can engage consumers’ senses and drive impulse purchasing.

HTA chief executive Carol Paris said: "With the economy now in recovery mode and consumer confidence on the up it will be the weather that decides whether 2014 turns out to be a good season."

The drop in unemployment is also noted by the HTA, which also points out that in general consumers have less money in their pockets because of the continuing gap between the rising inflation and static or dropping pay.

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