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It'll be interesting to see how sales have been in May 2008 - the weather has been close to perfect and I gather GC sales have been very buoyant during the month.
A bedding plant grower local to me says that his May sales have more than made up the early season deficit.
My guess is that plant sales will have made up a lot of lost ground but that sundries and leisure will still be down on budget.

Thanks for the info Richard and keep us informed - I would really like to see that the situation had reversed.

I am using mid June as the mark at which indicators (globally) need to have pointed upwards.

It looks like we shall end May just about on budget but it has still left a big hole to make up from March and April, it looks very likely that we shall just about be on a par with last year and considering all the overhead costs have gone up by 5-8% this is not the news we were hoping for but certainly not as bad as was predicted at the end of April. The next big question is how long will sales last into June, one thing is for sure the average spend will not hold up as it appears already that the public are aiming very much to the cheap and cheerful end of the market.
If, as we do clear out any tired and pot bound stock before it blocks sales to other plants, we reduce this down to 50% of original price it is soon snaffled up. The Pound is very tight out there.


It seems to me that the stark reality is there will not be enough business to go round for every nursery or garden centre to claw back lost earnings for March and April.

Whilst weather conditions may improve in the season, the window of opportunity for summer bedding will be lost and there is very little else, as far as selling in volume is concerned, to fill the void.

It seems to me the weather and economic climate are conspiring to accelerate a trend towards 'garden shopping' habits that I saw in the US about 6 years ago.
In the US big Garden Centres do about 80% of their business in the peak 6 weeks of the spring the rest of the year things go very quiet for them and as a result out of season most Garden Centres there look a bit run down. They have to put massive effort into those few short weeks when business is good with extra checkouts, drive through pick-ups for bulk goods and high staffing levels to manage the stock.
The UK trend is going the same way IMHO.
Consumers are becoming fair weather gardeners, only gardening when the conditions are ideal. They also garden the way they decorate - one big annual push and then onto something else; there's so many other things to do these days.
This polarisation of sales into the brief spring period is making life tough for Garden Centres, it's becoming harder to maintain standards of housekeeping, variety and display in the quiet periods. There's a nasty dilemma; should Garden Centres reduce stock out of season and risk putting off the keen gardeners who do make the effort to visit or do they maintain stock levels and risk high wastage and staffing costs - it's a tough one and likely to get worse.
If we follow the trends in the US then the number of big Garden Centres here will likely reduce and retail nurseries with a heavy seasonality will probably increase.
Fuel costs, overheads, staffing costs and scarcity of skilled staff will all put heavy pressure onto Garden Centres and there will surely be casualties.

Richard you are so right, I too visit the states and Canada recently and sure enough out of season the centre look poor and neglected apart form the Holiday times such as thanksgiving, Halloween etc and of course these too are now really taking a hold in many centres as they struggle to meet budgets..
i always used to think spring was a minimum of 16 weeks of good trading now we are lucky to get 8 weeks of reasonable trading and these are so effected by weather patterns.
We are going down the root of de-stocking 'out of season' plants and displaying just one two varieties of a genera on the plant tables, along with redesigning the plant to put plants in both seasons and categories rather than A_Z I am not sure what else we can do. If a customer(ie a keen gardener) wants a particular plant we are not currently stocking we will make all efforts to search this out and order in especially but with the economy taking such a grip on the wholesale nurseries as well as the retail the issue of minimum order numbers and values will make this even harder to accomplish. Why should the public be deprived or penalized for us not having the stock, we are considering mailing that special order to them if we are not stocking it, I know this costs but it is still a lot less than having tired stock blocking sales on the benches.
perhaps we desperately need a return to the old fashioned Grower-retailer at least he would carry the stock on his nursery that he could draw from.
Curiously the offer of something for free still attracts, we mailed out 32k leaflets this month offering a free Geranium and so far we having a great response getting on-towards 3%, which may appear low but believe you and me this is good but it is still hard to get these punters to buy anything else apart from Coffee and cake, thank God for the coffee shops.
prices are now really beginning to go up because of oil. We have just received notification that one of the UK biggest candle wholesalers is pumping their prices up by 12%, how is this going to effect the Christmas sales, especially as the far-eastern stock is looking to have similar cost increases.
Time to take a deep breath and again tighten your belts, this one is going to be a very bumpy ride.

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