Onward and upward

Kate Spirgen

The challenges and opportunities IGCs are facing now are so different than they were just a year ago. Instead of bringing new customers in, the industry is focused on keeping the tidal wave of new customers that came through the doors this spring. And instead of finding ways to move plants off the shelves, the concern this year was finding or growing enough stock to keep up with demand. What a great time to be in the green industry.

This unusual spring season also brought some perennial problems to the forefront. E-commerce has always been an elephant in the room, but it was bumped up the size of a wooly mammoth this year. And the constant struggle of inventory management and staff training were pushed into the spotlight.

What’s truly amazing and wonderful about this industry is the way people innovated and supported each other. The sharing of ideas between IGCs, the outreach from suppliers and, best of all, the outpouring of customer and community support went above and beyond. So many garden centers saw just how much they mean to their customers and did everything in their power to show their gratitude.

And in this year’s State of the Industry report, garden centers reported profits like never before. Spring sales volumes are up, net profits are up and, not surprisingly, average ticket sales were way up this spring.

Plants are really enjoying a whole new kind of popularity as homeowners revamp their spaces, both indoors and outdoors. I’ve been seeing plants become more prominent in popular culture in recent months. I’ll bet you’ve noticed it too. There are a lot more plants in places I haven’t seen them before. Just recently I saw an insurance commercial set in a garden center. And not too long ago, I remember seeing The Sill pop up in a Shopify ad. In fact, the last time I visited Etsy, four out of the six featured items were plant-related.

Where the industry goes from here is still subject to so many unknown factors and it will be interesting to see how fall and holiday sales go in the coming months. But no matter what happens, IGCs have the tools and the passion to weather the storm and come out on top.

Kate Spirgen

September 2020
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