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HTA Market Update shows impact of roller-coaster year

Calendar year finished 10% down overall on 2019

Looks forward to a year where consumers will once again be looking for ways to improve their outdoor spaces



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14 January 2021

The ornamental horticulture industry in the UK contended with extraordinary crisis and change in 2020, according to the Horticultural Trades Association’s (HTA) Market Update for January.

The latest figures show a 13% drop in overall sales on December 2019 nationally, and the 2020 calendar year finished 10% down overall on 2019.

In December, garden and gardening categories performed well, while catering sales were 57% down year on year. Despite the closure of garden centres and eight weeks less trading time in 2020, garden and gardening category sales finished the year 3% up on 2019 as a whole and 21% up when comparing December 2020 with December 2019. There was standout growth in sales of plant care products in December, for which sales were 45% higher than the same month in 2019.

The average garden store transaction value was up by 33% in December 2020 to £25.98, compared with December 2019.

The huge interest in gardening since the previous lockdown shows how engaged consumers are with plants and gardens – since May sales are up every month in 2020 against corresponding 2019 months and December shows a promising rise in consumer confidence.

The HTA Member Business Confidence Index showed member confidence dropped significantly at the beginning of 2020 as the impact of Covid-19 began to take effect. However, both short and longer-term business outlook steadily increased throughout the year with this confidence wavering at the end of the year due to uncertainty around EU Exit and the pandemic.

“There’s no doubt that 2020 was a roller-coaster year,” said David Denny, HTA futures and sustainability manager. “A strong start was followed by a lockdown that left hundreds of horticultural businesses facing the very real prospect of insolvency by the end of April.

“The timely re-opening of garden centres provided a lifeline to the industry, as three million more people turned to their gardens over 2020. A 10% fall in garden centre sales compared with 2019 is a far better result than we were facing in May, putting us in a more favourable position than many other sectors.”

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