The "increasingly frugal consumer has driven demand for gardening products", Verdict Research has found.
Expenditure on gardening products rose 10% in 2009, outstripping overall growth in the DIY and gardening sector. Gardening sales were £3.963bn, while DIY sales were £8.739bn, down 3.1% on 2008. Gardening sales fell 4.1% in 2008 to £3.603bn.
Expenditure on non-food products fell by 4.2% in 2009, so gardening bucked the trend.
Verdict retail analyst Joseph Robinson said: "The impact of recession on the consumer mindset will be a lasting fillip to the gardening sub sector. A heightened austerity is driving a trend towards ‘grow your own', while the inexpensive nature of gardening as a pastime saw it grow in popularity amongst more frugal consumers. In addition, with more consumers choosing not to holiday abroad in 2009, the garden became an important social venue that merited investment.
"The onset of recession served to compound the weakness in demand for DIY products that was already prevalent thanks to a depressed housing market and a general decline in consumers' affiliation with do-it-yourself" says Robinson. "While conditions were tough in DIY, everything fell into place for the gardening market in 2009. In addition to its increasing popularity and the general trends towards ‘grow your own', favourable weather in Spring and early Summer, coupled with the recession impacted consumer holidaying at home, made the garden an important social venue, boosting sales," added Robinson.
Gardening will continue to benefit from positive trends
Verdict says an ageing population profile, rising environmental concerns, the increasing popularity of garden centres and attempts by DIY superstores to offset the impact of weak DIY categories by focusing more heavily on gardening are positive trends.
Robinson added: "The recession has had a long lasting implication on the consumer psyche. Consumers' frivolous spending habits have been replaced by a more measured and cautious attitude, with gardening one of the beneficiaries of this heightened austerity. As the aging population takes their spending habits with them, this attitude will remain, which coupled with an increasing concern for the environment, will help drive long term growth in the popularity of gardening and the garden as an extension of the home".
"A trip to the local garden centre is increasingly representing an attractive day-out for British consumers of varying ages, with many garden centres representing much more than merely an outlet for buying plants and furniture for the garden" says Robinson. Many garden centres have introduced services such as restaurants to increase shopping times, while diversifying into areas such as pet centres and general gift products. "Garden specialists are becoming adept at increasing their destination status and in offering an alternative to the big DIY sheds, busy high street or shopping centre. At the same time, they are realising the potential to capitalise on the demands of their core customer base by providing them with non-discretionary products in resilient categories such as pet care, that provide good growth potential."
Robinson added that with DIY superstores focus more heavily on the gardening market B&Q, Focus, Homebase and Wickes have aimed to take advantage of the surge in demand for gardening products, for example, with B&Q's link up this year with celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh.