Poor start to garden retail year flagged at industry meeting

The need to focus on points of differentiation was the key message from garden retailers at a recent meeting of the Horticultural Trades Association Retail Management Group.

The opening months of the year have been "dismal" for the trade thanks to the ongoing challenges of the weather. However, garden retailers remain "cautiously optimistic" about the months ahead and are eagerly waiting for spring to truly arrive, says the HTA.
Core gardening categories remain "challenged" while other areas including catering, giftware, food shops and food halls "appear to be more resilient". Several members reported "healthy" growth in houseplant sales – perhaps a result of customers not being so active in their gardens.
Retail Management Group chair Adam Wigglesworth from Aylett Nurseries said: "There is pent up demand out there and customers are frustrated that they still can’t get out into their gardens as much as they would like to at this time of the year. This gives us hope for the months ahead as long as the weather is on our side."
He added: "Garden centres are well stocked, looking good and ready for business. We have a significant advantage by being pleasant places to visit but what we need to ensure is that we convert this into action and give people a reason to visit. A point of differentiation is vital to make sure that people choose to visit you over any competing destinations."

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