GfK analyst Nev Prevett said: "Casting our minds back to 2009, there were, prolonged, freezing temperatures throughout January and February. However a remarkably mild March and surprising, April saw the category perform well. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for 2010 where people still have heating on in May, perhaps explaining why Total Garden (chems, ferts, growing media, soil conditioners, lawn seed and hosueplant care) is down a modest one per cent between January and April against the same period 2009.
He added: "Not dwelling on the past, and looking to the future, what has 2010 seen so far? One area of growth that is somewhat surprising given the time of year is Lawn Seed, a category which demonstrated double digit value growth, however little volume growth in 2009 has seen value increases of 40.5 per cent between January and April 2010, compared against the same period 2009.
"Those of you with ears to the ground will be unsurprised to hear that following this growth within Lawn Seed, Own Label offerings, whilst showing growth have lost almost 16 market share points with branded product offerings now accounting for 52.2 per cent of the category.
"Whilst 2010 has not experienced the same weather pattern as 2009, it's understandable to see that core areas that prospered last spring, are yet to ignite, for instance Weedcontrols are showing 28 per cent declines Jan - April, mirrored by Pest Control which is suffering 20.6 per cent declines. For retailers and manufacturers alike, when is this £93m market going to deliver returns?
"One other sector of the market that has demonstrated growth, rather surprisingly this being the Lawn Spreader market, despite Lawn Fertilisers themselves having declined by 1.3.% since January, Lawn Spreaders themselves have demonstrated admirable growth of 1.6%. Have retailers tapped into a new market? Instead of shovels for grit, will a Lawn Spreader do the job?
"Last year, 2009, was a fantastic year for the category with the year ending 14.5 per cent up against the previous, a much needed boost to manufacturers and retailers alike, whilst April remains disheartening for key sectors. It's encouraging to see that whilst a traditional ‘British' Easter didn't deliver the climatic conditions for pest and weeds, plants prospered demonstrating growth of almost 10 per cent."