Last year saw a big leap in consumer spending on gardening, the National Gardening Survey reveals. The growth is so big it has its researcher, Bruce Butterfield, questioning if the level of spending will continue in 2016.
There are several reasons to hope that it will be sustained:
- The increase in spending is led not only by Baby Boomers, garden retail’s traditional customer, but also by Millennials. An estimated 90 million households participated in do-it-yourself lawn and gardening activities last year – in and outdoors, GardenResearch.com says. That’s about 75% of all U.S. households. According to the survey, the highest spending was among baby boomers, married households, those with annual incomes of more than $75,000, and college graduates. But the most important market force was 18 to 34 year olds — 5 million of the 6 million ‘new’ gardening households were Millennials.
- “Participation in gardening did not decline much during the economic downturn,” says Butterfield, who heads the National Gardening Market Research Company and oversees the survey each year. “People have been participating in gardening all along, but they weren’t spending as much in recent years.”
- Vegetable gardening continues to see increases, a trend that is far from peaking. Food gardening and flower gardening were the most popular gardening activities last year. About one out of three households participated in food gardening (36%) or flower gardening (34%). Households spent an estimated $3.6 billion growing vegetables, fruit, berries, and herbs and $2.7 billion on flower gardening.
Lawn and garden spending reached a reported $36.1 billion in 2015, the Survey reveals. Also, the average amount each household spent on the backyard or balcony nationwide in 2015 was $401 per household, up from a low of $317 in 2014.
This finding may indicate a recover is underway for the garden industry. Overall sales and per household spending were in a steady decline until a surprise surge in sales in 2013. Butterfield and industry consultant Ian Baldwin (who has analyzed the Survey for the garden industry the past several years) both viewed that sales increase warily, and their skepticism proved to be warranted. All the gains were lost just one year later in 2014.
So a second year of strong sales year in 2015 is a good sign.
To give a little perspective, average household spending on lawn and garden averaged $435 from 2001 to 2008, according to an analysis conducted by Baldwin. Then the financial collapse happened between growing seasons in late 2008, and the average household spend from 2009 to 2014 dropped to $359 (with 2014 as the five-year low at $317).
Actually, the average household spend on lawn and garden began declining in 2007, ushering in a five-year steady decline until 2013 experienced a big increase, only to be followed by the rock bottom 2014 numbers mentioned above.
“The $36 billion question is if lawn and garden sales will stay at this level in the future,” says Butterfield. “These results are encouraging. Not only did DIY gardening have 6 million more customers, they spent more, too,” says Butterfield.
The 250-page National Gardening Survey report can be purchased at GardenResearch.com.
The report includes analysis by Butterfield and an extended additional analysis of the data and commentary on the gardening market by Baldwin.