HTA November market data shows a confident countdown to Christmas

Fran Barnes, Chief Executive of the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) shares insights on trading during the festive season.

Old Cash Register
Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

“As we started to countdown to Christmas within garden centres, November’s Market data showed a marked improvement in consumer confidence and sustained industry resilience in stormy weather.

Despite the impact of storms, Ciaran and Debi, November demonstrated robust performance. Footfall remained strong, demonstrated by an increase in transaction numbers of +6% in the garden store and overall, garden centre sales were up by +2% compared to November 2022. This is the result of continued strong catering and food/farm shop sales counterbalancing plant sales dampened by the weather. This consistent performance underscores the enduring appeal of garden centres, which are resilient even in unpredictable weather patterns, a trend that has characterised much of 2023.

The cafés and restaurants within garden centres experienced a +14% increase in transaction numbers in November as consumers seek more than just products; they crave an experience that provides shelter and leisure.

Christmas is the perfect time to create those experiences, and we see impressive displays and added value in garden centre events. However, in November, the sales landscape presented a nuanced picture. Despite an overall -5% dip in Christmas sales compared to November 2022, likely due to the impact of Covid pulling forward the replacement cycle across many categories like artificial trees and decorations, specific categories showcased notable growth. Real Christmas trees emerged as a standout performer, demonstrating a +7% increase. This trend reflects a connection to tradition and nature that strongly resonates with consumers.

Lights also exhibited positive trends, posting +3% growth. This aligns with broader consumer behaviour, as evidenced by a recent report from John Lewis indicating a heightened trend of early holiday planning, particularly among women. This approach is driven by a desire to manage costs amidst prevailing economic uncertainties. Our figures further underscore a shift towards more thoughtful and cost-conscious holiday celebrations.

Consumer confidence, as gauged by GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index, increased by +6 points in the run-up to Christmas, reaching -24. However, it remains historically low, highlighting consumer cautiousness amidst persistently high costs”.

HTA Members can read the full Market Update here.