Christmas 2015: Fresh Greens And Personal Gifts Were A Hit For Garden Retailers

Ian BaldwinAs the last of the “50% off” sales straggle to a sad end, and intrepid buyers of all-things Christmas are shopping at the “Market” (as AmericasMart’s The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market is euphemistically known) and other gift shows this winter, I thought it might be worth sharing some observations from the holiday business 2015.

It seems to have been a happy Christmas season for most garden retailers, despite a falling stock market and burgeoning online sales. The spending patterns of the American consumer for 2015’s Christmas reflected the greater changes seen through the year by the independent garden retailers that we know.

Average spend per customer in November and December was up on the previous year by a range of 2% to 12%, while the favorable weather across much of the country drove customer count up by an even higher range for the majority. While predictions for general retail spending in the malls were modest, garden retailers seemed to beat the street. Did consumers trade savings at the pump for a bigger wreath? J.P. Morgan Chase says that the average household is saving over $260 per year on cheaper gas and that they will spend up to 80% of it!

What consumers spent their money on is important as buyers head for Atlanta and Dallas, hoping to predict what shoppers will drool over in 10 months’ time – never easy. Christmas merchandise has but one chance per year to wow the consumer. It takes real talent to repurpose a Nutcracker as a garden gnome five months later!

Lowe's Greenhouses fresh greens 2015
Lowe’s Greenhouses in Chagrin Falls, OH, enjoyed a big increase in fresh greenery sales.

Fresh Is “In”

Feedback from our networks and clients was of strong and consistent traffic across all regions, demographics and store sizes. Fresh was “in” everywhere — fresh cut trees, greens, roping, and wreaths, the bigger the better, and the more unique the better in all categories. Customized wreath-making stations were selling them as quickly as they could be made. Where buyers could find them, re-orders sold out on cut greens, wreaths and outdoor “porch pots.”

Meanwhile, artificial trees were only strong at the top of the price range, and what was once the very essence of a retail Christmas — ornaments and collectibles, especially collectibles — languished inside many stores. This last category, known to some of my English friends as “landfill,” may have seen its best days for a while as the collectors of such things as nutcrackers, carolers, nativities, Victorian nostalgia and so on, fade away themselves. And younger consumers may be turning away from decorative “stuff” to spend on other, more practical or experiential, things.

A Department That Keeps On Giving

Given the (expensive) buying expeditions underway to the shows, it might be helpful to know what those other things are!

Sales of all sorts of personal items, presumably destined for under-the-tree gifts, were very strong. But the key change here is from Christmas gifts to all year round gifts. As one owner said “I want something I can sell into March, not just up to December 25th!”

Despite the warm weather affecting sales of winter-wear in the malls, sales of scarves, gloves, socks, sweaters and jewelry in garden-stores were extremely good in November and December. Any retailer with new or unusual styles of existing items such as super-cold drink containers sold out, and local-made apparel, food and drink were hits across the country.

I am not sure if I have a conclusion from all this information as you work the booths at market, but caution is advised; change is in the air for Christmas “gift” shopping. One of the big winners at Christmas was gift cards for future experiences: eating out, concert tickets, classes (glassblowing, cocktail making, etc.) or taking a trip.

Take Care With Those Bears

Sure, consumers are still going to decorate with lights, trees, ornaments or swag and will still buy lots of stuff. They will still change color schemes and update their homes each holiday season. But the highlights of their spending now seem to be less on Christmas-, Santa-, and holiday-themed products and more on giving personal all-round gifts or new exciting things that are not necessarily connected to the specific season. Consumers are going for fresh, honest and, where possible, local products, if they give products at all.

Sooo, buy carefully in the next few weeks: it’s hard to turn the boat back to China once you have confirmed!

Reprinted, with permission, from IanBaldwin.com.

 

Leave a Reply

2 comments on “Christmas 2015: Fresh Greens And Personal Gifts Were A Hit For Garden Retailers

  1. […] Christmas 2015: Fresh Greens And Personal Gifts Were A Hit For Garden Retailers Ian Baldwin As the last of the “50% off” sales straggle to a sad end. Intrepid buyers of all-things Christmas are shopping at the “Market” (as AmericasMart's The Atlanta International Gift &amp. Home Furnishings Market is euphemistically known) and … Read more on Greenhouse Grower (blog) […]

  2. […] Nature gives us some of the best decorations around and these items have recently become even more embraced as simple, chic, trendy, and timeless. A recent article by Ian Baldwin in Greenhouse Grower magazine that highlighted the 2015 selling season at garden retailers stated, “Feedback from our networks and clients was of strong and consistent traffic across all regions, demographics and store sizes. Fresh was “in” everywhere — fresh cut trees, greens, roping, and wreaths, the bigger the better, and the more unique the better in all categories. Customized wreath-making stations were selling them as quickly as they could be made. Where buyers could find them, re-orders sold out on cut greens, wreaths and outdoor “porch pots.” You certainly can’t argue with sales statistics and  you can read more of that article HERE. […]

More From Retailing...
Pollinator-friendly perennials are a big hit with eco-concious consumers

May 27, 2016

Which Pollinator Terms Appeal Most To Consumers?

A team from the University of Florida tested several promotional phrases, from the specific ("butterflies" and "bees") to more general.

Read More
IGC App For 2016 Shows

May 26, 2016

IGC Shows Release Free Apps To Help You Plan For Both The Chicago And Philadelphia Shows

Free event planning apps for each show are now available for download in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

Read More

May 23, 2016

Ian Baldwin Sees Several Garden Trends Developing This Spring

The garden industry consultant reads the mid-spring tea leaves and sees several trends emerging.

Read More
Latest Stories
Pollinator-friendly perennials are a big hit with eco-concious consumers

May 27, 2016

Which Pollinator Terms Appeal Most To Consumers?

A team from the University of Florida tested several promotional phrases, from the specific ("butterflies" and "bees") to more general.

Read More
IGC App For 2016 Shows

May 26, 2016

IGC Shows Release Free Apps To Help You Plan For Both T…

Free event planning apps for each show are now available for download in the Apple App Store and on Google Play.

Read More

May 23, 2016

Ian Baldwin Sees Several Garden Trends Developing This …

The garden industry consultant reads the mid-spring tea leaves and sees several trends emerging.

Read More

May 23, 2016

Manhattan’s Urban Garden Center Suffers Second Di…

Two years after a nearby gas explosion destroyed the store in Manhattan's Spanish Harlem, Urban Garden Center had a four-alarm fire that disrupted a popular train route, and the garden retailer is now dealing with an angry community.

Read More
Aerial_view_of_the_Bayer_cross_high_res

May 23, 2016

Bayer Sells Consumer Garden Products Division To French…

The sale to SBM Développement comes just as Bayer AG makes a bid for Monsanto.

Read More
rain on flowers weather FEATURE

May 16, 2016

Industry Consultants Say Early Sales Are Bolstering Poo…

It's been a roller coaster of a spring. Three garden retail consultants, who remain in close touch with more than a hundred garden stores collectively, report on what their clients are experiencing.

Read More
One symptom of Botrytis blight is gray, fuzzy sporulation on foliage and flowers, similar to that shown on the flower of this hibiscus

May 16, 2016

In-Store Plant Care Tips To Teach Your Staff

With the spring season still fresh on our minds, now is the time to reflect on some common disease and pest problems that occur in the garden center, recognize which problems touched your store, and identify solutions to quickly treat and control these problems in the future. Ideal solutions for the retail environment will be fast and effective with a short REI, have labels including edibles and ornamentals, present no or minimal odor and residue, bring no risk of burn or other phyto, and will not present a residual bee hazard. It’s a tall order, but we have solutions that fit the bill for some of the most common diseases and pests. The main foliar disease encountered in garden centers is Botrytis. This ubiquitous disease requires humid/moist conditions and can attack both dying and healthy foliage and floral tissue, producing characteristic gray, fluffy sporulation. Botrytis attacks healthy tissue with as […]

Read More

May 16, 2016

What Garden Retailers Will Want To Check Out At Cultiva…

Planning on attending Cultivate'16 in July? We've tracked down the things you'll want to do, from catching a screening of the documentary "Gangster Gardener" to checking out the new cultivars at The Ohio State University's trial gardens.

Read More

May 10, 2016

Spring 2016 Has Seen Big Sales Increases Despite A Wet …

Cool, wet conditions followed an early spring across much of North America. But customers didn't seem to care as much, and year-over-year sales are enjoying a significant boost, retailers are reporting.

Read More

May 10, 2016

An Internet-Based, Employee-Scheduling Tool Is A Hit At…

Owner John Heaton talks about how the scheduling tool has made life easier for managers and employees.

Read More

May 9, 2016

2015 Garden Sales Jumped 26% Over 2014

The National Gardening Survey is out, and 2015 was a big year in garden sales.

Read More

May 9, 2016

9 Practical Tips To Turn New Gardener Panic To Confiden…

Consultant Ian Baldwin has noticed panicked looks on millennial faces while they shop for plants. They have bought into the concept of outdoor fun with the kids or healthy home-grown food, but matching the dream with reality is another matter.

Read More

May 3, 2016

SNA’s Summer Tradeshow Is Revamped As SEGreen

SNA is hosting a new summer show, SE Green, in Athens, GA. It mixes a conference for Southeast-based landscapers, growers, and retailers, with exhibitors.

Read More

May 2, 2016

A Fire At A New Hampshire Garden Center Challenges Spri…

Petal Pushers Farm in Laconia, NH, suffered a two-alarm fire two weeks prior to Mother's Day Weekend. It is already back up and running, but is scrambling to replace its losses.

Read More

May 2, 2016

Surprise Customers With Over-The-Top Service On Busy We…

Customers coming to your store this weekend expect long lines, crowded aisles, and other annoyances. If you step up and wow them this weekend with great service, you'll have a winning formula: low expectations + high traffic + amazing service = lots of new and repeat customers.

Read More
PMA Floral Anaheim

May 1, 2016

Produce Marketing Association Plans Floral Supply Chain…

The PMA Fresh Connections: Floral events will unveil new market research and trends, while offering insights into the changing landscape of floral retailing.

Read More
Natureworks Monarch life cycle caterpillar FEATURE

April 29, 2016

Do Customers Really Care How Plants Are Grown?

The consumer uprising against neonicotinoids has roiled the industry over the past couple of years. In June 2013, someone applied pesticide to a tree in full bloom, using the product in an off-label manner. That misapplication killed tens of thousands of bees, capturing the attention of activists. A short three years later, that activism has led to policy changes for big chains like The Home Depot and Lowe’s. Several cities and towns across the country have banned the sale of neonicotinoids, as has the state of Maryland. All of this made me curious. How was all the publicity affecting consumer attitudes at local garden stores? Traditionally, customers have shown little interest in how flowering plants are grown, other than they like the idea that they are from a local source. They have been much more particular about food plants than they have ornamentals. So I sent questions out to a […]

Read More

April 26, 2016

How To Host A Spectacular Farm Dinner

Farm-to-table dinners are a great way to connect your customers with a love for nature and growing things. These three green industry companies have had a lot of success with their farm dinners. Find out what it takes to pull one of these dinners off successfully. Advice from Tangletown Garden’s Dean Englemann: You have to be certain you’re matching the ticket price to the experience, make sure you’re exceeding expectations. It can’t just be about the food. You have to deliver the experience. For us, we want to make sure there’s a lasting experience of connecting our food to families and dining. For lack of a better comparison, we want sitting in a field, eating food we grew and created, to be a religious experience. There’s almost a ceremonial aspect to these dinners. We’ve always thought that the shortest distance between the earth and people is the distance between the hand and the […]

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]