Checking in on Spring 2018

Uncooperative weather has created a challenging spring season for many retailers across the U.S.


Most garden center retailers go into the busiest season of their year hoping for pleasant weather conditions and healthy foot traffic, but this year, many got a season they didn’t bargain for.

Winter conditions overstayed their welcome in several parts of country. According to the Weather Channel, 40 locations in 13 states in the Midwest, Northeast, Plains and South regions of the U.S. experienced record-breaking cold when compared to past Aprils, after the official start of spring.

Though some businesses have reported favorable spring conditions and sales, many others have struggled. When Garden Center magazine reached out to IGCs across the country, a pattern emerged; a number of retailers had a rough April, with some recovery or, in some cases, record-breaking sales figures, in May and over Mother’s Day Weekend:

“April was the worst I can remember in weather since I have been in business. May has started like gangbusters, and we are in a great place today. I hope it continues to flow this way, and I may have my chance of making back our early spring losses.” Sandi Hillermann McDonald, president of Hillermann Nursery & Florist in Washington, Mo.

“We’ve had the nuttiest two weeks we’ve seen in the history of this industry. There was so much pent up spring fever … [customer] landscaping budgets seem to be higher.”— Jennifer Schamber, general manager of Greenscape Gardens & Gifts near St. Louis, Mo.

“April was slow, but May has been terrific. Molbak’s Mother’s Day week was the best we’ve had in at least ten years. And sales continue to be strong this week (week of May 14), even though the weather has cooled.”Julie Kouhia, CEO of Molbak’s Garden + Home in Woodinville, Wash.

“We had a phenomenal week last week, and we’re up about 30 percent year over year. We’re definitely behind the eight ball, so we’ve got a lot of catching up to do late this month and certainly into next month.” Nate Jackson, vice president of operations at Hicks Nurseries in Long Island, N.Y.

“Overall, our existing stores are up just over double digits through Mother’s Day. We’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy higher foot traffic and average sale increases with the stronger economy. We’re very lucky to have enough moisture in Northern California for two years, which has made a difference in customer psychology.”Frank Benzing, president and CEO of SummerWinds Nursery in Arizona and California.

“April was tough. On three of our normally peak Saturdays (in a row) we had sub 40-degree temps. Sales on those days were cut nearly in half, but luckily, weekdays were better than normal. We ended April down a good bit. May started well, and Mother’s Day was above average.” Mark Ruibal, vice president of sales and marketing for Ruibal’s Plants of Texas in Dallas.

“Awesome in Texas.” — Comment on Garden Center’s Facebook page by Connie Kilburn when asked about spring sales.

“Record setting in Longmont, Colorado!” — Comment on Garden Center’s Facebook page by Kimberly Haas Jackson.

For more reactions from retailers and industry experts, read the full article at Thanks to all participating garden center representatives for their input.

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