Photo: Laura Watilo Blake

For the most part, independent garden centers had strong, profitable years and solid 2017 spring seasons. The numbers have remained steady and consistent since 2016 and show an industry that’s continuing to stabilize and grow. For example, 83% of garden centers anticipate a profit in 2017, which is the same percentage as reported in 2016. In both 2016 and 2017, 59% of respondents said their spring seasons were stronger than the previous year.

Though independent garden centers diversify to offset the seasonality of the business, plants remain the strongest category. Annuals, trees/shrubs, perennials and succulents/cacti represented the top four departments with the largest sales increases at garden centers this spring compared to 2016. The top three trends also involve green goods — succulents/cacti (22%), container gardening (19%) and edibles/grow your own food (15%.)

Weather, as it has for the past few years, remains the top concern, with 55% of those surveyed saying it is their greatest challenge. Other major concerns include high labor costs (40%), competition (32%) and high operation costs (32%).

A decade after the Great Recession, about two-thirds of the industry reports that it has recovered, with stronger or similar sales compared to pre-recession revenues. However, some are still struggling. 23 percent indicate that while they’ve recovered, sales and customer levels are still lower than 10 years ago, and 13 percent say sales/customer levels are still significantly below the figures prior to the Great Recession.

Michelle is the editor of Garden Center magazine. Garden Center’s State of the Industry Report will be published in its November issue.

64% of garden centers surveyed say they have recovered from the Great Recession, and are either at or above sales levels seen before the economic crash. However, 23% say that while they’ve recovered, sales and customer levels are still lower than 10 years ago, and 13% report figures that are significantly below pre-recession levels. Editor’s note: These percentages do not include the 14% of the total respondents that reported that they were not yet in business when the recession began.