The Present Tree looks at the growing trend for purchasing garden plants online, identifies the reasons for this, and the effect this has on the gardening industry.
Did you know that 90% of households in the UK have internet access, with 77% purchasing goods online. Many of us favour staying at home and shopping online, as opposed to heading out to the physical shops. We log on to buy food, clothes, holidays… and plants.
Approximately 27 million people in the UK partake in gardening – that’s 42% of the British population.
Such high numbers have contributed to the amount of revenue generated: the gardening retail market was worth £5 billion in 2014. In 2013, £1.4billion was spent on plants in the UK, with those aged 45-54 the biggest spenders.
Research undertaken by the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) found that the average age of a gardener has increased over the last 20 years. The main reason cited is that because people are settling down later in life, gardening is taking a backseat until the children have grown up.
Increased Internet Usage Amongst Older Generations
This makes for some interesting reading when paired with the latest internet usage statistics. Of the 77% of people who purchase goods online, the highest growth was experienced by those aged 55-64%. Having risen by 30% since 2008, 75% now buy products online.
Could they – as the “typical” age of a UK gardener – be contributing to the rising trend of purchasing plants online?
Those over 45+ have larger gardens on average than their younger counterparts (15m² compared to 12m²). However, younger gardeners are not letting restricted space stop them. You only have to do a quick Google Search to find tips and tricks on using balconies and window boxes to maintain a garden.
Looking at it from this point of view, the younger gardeners could be helping to increase the number of plants being bought online. Working longer hours, they may not have time to visit the garden centre, so turn to the internet instead.
The Benefits of Purchasing Plants Online
There are clear benefits to purchasing plants online, as opposed to going to a store, which are likely contributing to the growing popularity of buying online.
One of the main benefits is the choice available online: stock is less affected by seasonality, which means shoppers can choose from a wider variety of plants. Not only that, but plants are often available in a variety of sizes and stages, from seeds to container plants and everything in between.
Physical garden centres will likely find it difficult to compete with variety, simply due to lack of space.
The other main benefit of purchasing plants online is the convenience of home delivery. Gardeners may not live near a garden centre, or have access to a car. This makes transporting plants home very difficult – especially if they’ve bought a few plants, or they’re particularly heavy.
Ordering online eliminates this issue, with plants safely delivered to their door.
In fact, this ease of delivery has made way for another type of business. Companies like ours which specialise in plants and trees as gifts, can freshly deliver products straight to recipients’ doors, without the sender having to worry about transportation logistics.
Interflora operates in the same way. Whilst they’re not a garden plants company, the fact that they deliver their flowers directly to recipients, is much more convenient than the sender buying a bunch of flowers from a florist or a supermarket, and then sending them over to the recipient themselves.
The other benefit of purchasing plants online is price: online businesses will have fewer overhead costs than physical stores, so can afford to be more competitive on price. Plus, shoppers are savvy: they know if they look around online, they can find the best deals and save money.
How Is This Affecting the Gardening Industry?
This is having a positive effect on the gardening industry. Despite an increase in plants being purchased online, garden centres are still enjoying regular visitors and in fact, many are expanding. There will always be people who prefer shopping in a garden centre, where they can physically see the plants they are purchasing.
Ultimately, we should be encouraging more people to take up gardening as a hobby. It’s a proven stress-reliever, and has the ability to reduce stress-related illnesses. For that reason, whether people are choosing to purchase their plants online or in-store is merely a case of which is most convenient for them.
The good news, for everyone, is more people are purchasing trees and plants, and enjoying their garden.