Each year when we prepare our questions for the State of the Industry Report, we formulate predictions based on conversations with garden center owners, managers and staff. We hypothesized that houseplants were hot for retailers this year, and that hiring would be the greatest challenge for independent garden centers surveyed. Indeed, indoor plants was one of the best-performing departments, and, when compared to other potential hurdles like weather, the economy and competition, close to a third of respondents indicated staffing was their chief concern. Another 36% reported it was “very difficult” to find high-quality hires for available positions.

Garden center retailers are doing well overall, as 89% reported they would turn a profit this year, and 39% of those indicated it would be 10% or more. This year’s spring sales, when compared to 2017, increased for most, with 41% reporting that sales were up 5% or more, even though the season was significantly delayed and compressed for many. When asked if their garden center had recovered from the Great Recession, 42% said they had surpassed the sales and customer levels just before the Great Recession, and 19% said they were back to the levels they had just before the economic downturn. (About 14% could not say, since they were not in business a decade ago.)

The report also revealed that retailers are changing the way that they do business to best meet consumer demands, increasing social media, email marketing and hosting more in-store events, which you can read more about in Last Look.

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2018 Garden Center State of the Industry Report