April 27, 2009

Looking At Loss Leaders

Retailers were more aggressive kicking off spring. That in itself is good, because we all knew this would be a tough year to draw consumers into stores and spend money on more than absolute necessities. Given the state of national and local economies, this is not a year to be complacent. Lowe’s television commercials received rave reviews, as viewers marveled at masses of bedding plants parading down the street like a magic carpet. This was a significant investment by Lowe’s and a strong vote of confidence for plants as a product category. Home Depot aired its share of television and radio commercials with the slogan, “More saving. More doing.” Notice the passive sentence construction emphasized the word “More.” Being an editor, I keep wanting to change it to, “Save more. Do more.” But what really caught everyone’s attention were the three-for-a-dollar and 33-cent annuals promotions at Home Depot and Lowe’s. […]

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April 20, 2009

Keeping An Eye On Food Gardening

According to a National Gardening Association (NGA) study titled The Impact of Home and Community Gardening In America, 7 million more households plan to grow fruits, vegetables, berries and herbs in food gardens in 2009. That figure is up 19 percent from the 36 million households that had food gardens in 2008. NGA also reports 21 percent of food gardening households in 2009 will be new to gardening, and a small portion (11 percent) of households already active in food gardening plan to increase the amount and variety of vegetables they grow this year. A few other key findings: – About 5 million households are extremely or very interested in having community gardens located near their home.–The average spent on all types of food gardening in 2008 was $70 per participating household.–The most popular vegetables with home gardeners are tomatoes, which 86 percent say they’ll grow this year. To read […]

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April 17, 2009

March Retail Sales Disappoint

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), retail industry sales for March (which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) decreased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from February, and dropped 3.7 percent unadjusted over the last year. “A chilly start to spring and a late Easter combined for dreary March sales,” says Rosalind Wells, chief economist for NRF. “To compensate for the Easter shift, retailers typically look at March and April together to get a better look at how their stores performed. Easter should give a much-needed boost to April sales.” Read the full story here.

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April 17, 2009

Mother’s Day Spending Dips

According to the National Retail Federation’s (NRF) 2009 Mother’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey conducted by BIGresearch, Americans will spend an average of $123.89 per person for Mother’s Day, compared to last year’s $138.63. Total Mother’s Day spending is expected to reach $14.10 billion. The majority of people (66.8 percent) will buy flowers for mom, spending a total of $1.9 billion. “No one will forgo celebrating Mother’s Day because of the bad economy, but they will put careful thought into what they buy and how much they spend,” says Phil Rist, executive vice president, strategic initiatives, BIGresearch. “Moms will understand that kids may be spending on a budget, so inexpensive, personal gifts will go a long way.” Read the full story here.

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April 17, 2009

Groups Push To Resolve Mexican Trade Dispute

Oregon agriculture exporters whose products face steep Mexican tariffs met today with Congressman Kurt Schrader to ask for his help in resolving a trade dispute between the United States and Mexico. On March 19, several Oregon agriculture sectors were slapped with tariffs of up to 20 percent after a pilot program allowing Mexican trucks access to U.S. highways was scrapped. Mexico reinstated the pre-North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) tariffs in response to Congress’ decision to stop funding the Department of Transportation’s Cross Border Trucking Pilot Program. “Ending the program clearly violated provisions of NAFTA and provoked Mexico to retaliate against a number of industries, including the many Oregon growers who depend upon the Mexican market,” says Jeff Stone, director of government relations for the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN). OAN, which represents Oregon’s largest sector of agriculture, stressed the urgency of resolving the trade dispute before the start of […]

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April 7, 2009

Spending Up In February

For the second month in a row, consumers spent more money, the number edging up by 0.2 percent, the Commerce Department reported. The report follows a 1 percent jump in January. However, incomes fell by 0.2 percent in February, thanks to a significant number of layoffs. The spending increases followed six declines between July and December. Read more here.

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March 27, 2009

Industry Pulse: Your Expectations For Spring

Please provide us with any additional comments or observations about your expectations for spring. Plants make people happy so they will still buy them. Some farmers are closing their operation because nutrients are very expensive. Our seed sales are already up 15 percent at least year to date. I would expect veggie plant sales to be through the roof. As a supplier, I see growers being very cautious with the size and breadth of crop they are producing. As we have seen many times and tend to forget, this is the biggest hobby in the country. I believe the average consumer may spend a little less on the upper-end items, but veggies and seed may sell at unprecedented levels. We are very, very cautiously optimistic. If anything gives the consumer an excuse not to buy, watch out. Vegetable and fruit plants should do as well or better. So should the […]

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March 27, 2009

Online Only: Complete Industry Pulse Survey Responses

We asked our readers to give us their takes on the upcoming spring season. More than 300 readers submitted their answers throughout February, and here is the data we compiled. Which of the following best describes your business? Grower/retailer 47.5% Wholesale grower 47.1% Young plant grower 5.4% Where are you located? Northeastern U.S. 23.4% Midwestern U.S. 26.3% Southeastern U.S. 22.1% Southwestern U.S. 5.2% Western U.S. 11.0% Other 12.0% How do you expect your Spring 2009 sales to compare to last year? Increase of less than 5 percent 21.4% Increase of 6 to 10 percent 22.2% Increase of more than 10 percent 12.8% Decrease of less than 5 percent 9.5% Decrease of 6 to 10 percent 9.5% Decrease of more than 10 percent 7.4% Stay the same 17.3% Have your sales expectations for 2009 changed in the last three months? Yes, they are lower than I thought three months ago 31.5% […]

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March 26, 2009

Burpee CEO Praises First Lady’s Efforts

  “Michelle Obama is setting a superb example for our country’s citizens, particularly for America’s children,” says Burpee chairman and CEO, George Ball. With the “first sizable vegetable garden since Franklin Roosevelt was in office,” Ball says that the implementation of this garden is extremely timely in helping raise awareness about the benefits of homegrown food. He compares it to the physical fitness intiative President John F. Kennedy led. “It is the kind of program that should please people across the political spectrum. It is inexpensive to implement, and the return on investment is extraordinary,” says Ball. He continues, “Gardens inspire the kind of optimism the American public is craving right now. Children growing up during this renaissance in vegetable gardening will learn valuable lessons about nutrition, nature, self-efficiency and respecting the earth by gardening alongside their parents.” To read more about the Burpee Chairman’s views on the White House […]

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March 23, 2009

Bring On Spring

Planning for spring is like placing a bet: If you do your homework thoroughly and manage the factors you can control, you increase your odds for success. If you prepare inadequately, conjure guesses or simply wing a production plan entering spring, you’re bound to fail. And then there’s the biggest grower gamble of all: hoping for good spring weather. According to the results of Greenhouse Grower’s recent Industry Pulse Survey, 70 percent of growers say weather is the most important factor in determining their success this spring–even with a down economy like ours. “The key is weather. It always has been and always will be,” says Abe Van Wingerden, president of Metrolina Greenhouses in Huntersville, N.C. “Many other factors come into play, but they are mainly controllable or manageable. Weather is something we just hope works in our favor. Eight straight sunny weekends equals success for everyone. Eight straight rainy […]

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March 20, 2009

More On Consumer Show Attendance

We’ve heard mixed reports about attendance at flower, garden and landscape shows this year, but gardeners were out and about at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle; the Yard Garden & Patio (YGP) Show in Portland, Ore.; and the Philadelphia Flower Show. Danielle Ernest of Proven Winners attended the shows in Seattle and Portland. She says host organizations report attendance was up quite a bit at both. “P. Allen Smith spoke at the Yard, Garden & Patio Show, and they actually had to expand the room because people were waiting in line to get in,” Ernest says. There were close to 700 people who attended.” Nearly 25,000 people reportedly showed up to the show in Portland. “In a tough economy, where consumer events are experiencing decreases in numbers, gate attendance at YGP increased by 1 percent over last year,” says Whitney Rideout, business development manager of the Oregon […]

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March 20, 2009

Scotts Donating 1 Million Pounds Of Produce

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has teamed up with Plant a Row for the Hungry and Feeding America in asking Americans to take the GroGood pledge – grow a garden for the greater good. To launch the pledge campaign, Scotts will donate 1 million pounds of produce and will call on Americans to help double that donation by pledging to grow and donate an additional 1 million pounds of fresh produce to help feed those at risk for hunger. “This program is designed to make it easy for backyard gardeners to get involved and make a difference,” says Su Lok, director of corporate and community partnerships at Scotts. “We hope Americans will support the GroGood program and plant a food garden this spring to reap the benefits of gardening for themselves and others. “One million pounds may sound like a lot, but if just 40,000 people take the GroGood pledge and […]

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