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Garden Centres Anticipating Sales Boom

Ordering patterns suggest garden centres are anticipating a sales boom when general retail reopens on 2 December and are ordering more Christmas plant stock for the seasonal period.

Garden centres have been ordering seasonal plants such as poinsettias strongly for December and are ordering boldly into 2021 to make sure they secure supplies.

Waterdrinker's Brian Redman says demand for plants is high: "There will be good trade in December judging from the patterns of what retailers are buying. Not everyone realises garden centres are open at the moment. But when lockdown ends there is going to be a big boost in early December."

He added: "A lot of stock is already booked for next year indoor and outdoor. It's just a case of securing the stock. Everything is looking positive for next year, it's just getting over that initial [Brexit] hurdle."

Waterdrinker has joined forces with OZ Planten and Hamiplant (both part of Dutch Flower Group) to form the Dutch Plant Group. Redman said: "The new group will give us more strength."

Meanwhile, Newey Group sees Christmas plant sale potential, particularly with its poinsettia crop, while Emerald Group foresees strong Christmas tree sales in garden centres.

The HTA has advised retailers to implement a safe trading environment by controlling customer numbers and avoiding Christmas events that cause people to congregate until at least Wednesday 2 December.

Redman said 2020 has been one of the busiest years he has worked with the pressures of Covid followed by unprecedented demand for both indoor and outdoor plants.

Sales have been around 40% up and were "unbelievable - once garden centres were allowed to reopen [on 13 May in England after shutting on 23 March] I've never seen anything like it in all my years in the trade. We were constantly trying to find stock."

Garden centres were block booking stock ahead eight weeks in advance and Redman booked four lorryloads of sunflowers for instance on one occasion, rather than the normal two or three trolleys.

"Indoor plants have gone through the roof becaue people are at home and stuck in the house. It was trending anyway. Finding stock is still a battle now with a lack of young plants being imported from certain parts of the world and a shortage of a lot of foliage lines."

Ceropegia, calathea and senecio are among plants that have been in high demand and Redman has been booking four weeks ahead from growers instead of weekly as they have been selling out quickly.

As well as souring normal stock in bigger quantities, Redman sourced stock such as bedding that he would not usually be asked for in 2020 as it was in short supply from UK growers because of the coronavirus crisis. This means it is difficult to base projections for 2021 on 2020's business: "This year is a one-off."

He added: "British suppliers still managed to sell their plants when they were ready. Garden centres got what they could from the UK and went abroad for the rest. Garden centres adapted really well and also got online processes in place."

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This story was published on: 20/11/2020

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