Grow Healthy Profits for Independent Garden Centers
Independent Garden Centers (ICGs) are blooming! While businesses lost sales in the early spring of 2020, most came back strong with the highest profits in years. According to the latest Garden Center State of the Industry Report, 87 percent of survey respondents projected a sales increase.
Edibles Outsell Annuals
For the first time in 12 years, edibles outsold annuals. The coronavirus and high unemployment motivated gardeners to grow their own produce. Sales of vegetables and herbs increased to 29 percent compared to 28 percent for annuals. In commenting on the current state of the industry, one respondent says, “The quarantine era led to a renewed interest in gardening and planting. I hope to keep those new customers involved and interested.”
Fairy Gardening and Statuary Lose Ground
Every category didn’t end up smelling like a rose in 2020. After four years of popularity, it appears that the fairy gardening era is coming to an end. Over time sales have dropped significantly—falling off the list of survey responses. Water gardening is another category that lacked responses. Other categories that lost traction with consumers are fountains and statuary, apparel, birding, and nature products.
Services Expand Due to Pandemic
As was the case with other retailers, Covid-19 had a significant impact on operations at IGCs. Over 70 percent of survey respondents said the pandemic had a great deal of impact (50 percent), or a lot (21 percent). Customers also took advantage of many services they may not have used previously. The ability to provide curbside pickup, online shopping, and order delivery were conveniences that resulted in more sales and also helped shoppers feel safe.
Promoting the Business
Garden Center respondents relied heavily on social media (90%) to get the word out about their businesses (99% use Facebook, and 72% use Instagram). While the survey indicates a decline in direct mail (22%) and hosting events (23%), this was offset by increased marketing and advertising promotions on websites (84%), via e-mail (63%) and with online/digital advertising (55%).
Optimism about the Future
There was no shortage of comments when respondents were asked about the impact Covid-19 has had on their business. “The short-term impact has been positive. It will be interesting to see if there is a “bubble” months down the road when things slow. However, most customers interacting with the business means more opportunity to put your business/product on display to a consumer. If they have a positive experience, it can only mean good things for business in the future.”
Source: 2020 Garden Center, State of the Industry Report