My friend, Dean Chaloupka, offers the following commentary on the spring season:
Talking with growers around the country, most did very well through the peak of the Spring 2009 season and have seen sales drop off during June. Depending on what part of the country you are in, this could be viewed as significant (North) or not (South).
I won’t go into the economic factors which contibuted to the industry fairing well through most of the Spring but will touch on a couple which growers and retailers should think about as softer June sales have reminded us.
1. While consumers stayed home in Spring and focused on decorating their homes and yards, the economy is still on peoples minds and many consumers are on budgets. Consumers will not spend as freely as in better economic times.
2. People will make their purchases last longer. Plants will be maintained and not pulled out and replanted as often.
3. Disposable income still plays a role in how much people will purchase for plant material. Gasoline has started to move upward again and can impact sales going forward if the trend continues.
4. Consumers need a reason continue to purchase plant material. Later in the season, new and fresh planters, baskets, etc will generate new sales but it should not be expected that left over flats, 4″, 6″ pots and items which are the same thing consumers saw earlier will meet a need. At this time, consumers will no longer “grow” the plant.
It is my expectation that consumers will view plants and horticultural products for the rest of 2009 just as they have done in June. They will need to be enticed to decorate and the same old products, plants, packaging, and messages will not do it.