Looking into spring 2010

My views are from the perspective of a small, independent garden center in northern California. Other areas may have different dynamics in place, so take what I say with that in mind. This spring will be a lot like last spring. Sales of ornamentals will continue to slide.  Landscaping is dead in the water. Landscapers are few and far between. We have never been big with the landscaping crowd, instead focusing on the retail market. Wholesale nurseries that deal with that aspect of gardening will see a further decline in sales.There are still some landscaping and landscapers working, but it's a small part of what was at one time a major mover out here. Many more wholesale nurseries are going to go under. Who's next?

Edibles will be the mover again this year. The supplies that we use to keep the fruit and vegetable garden going will be big again. Organic fertilizers and soil conditioners will again be big movers. Organic are still strong, but people are willing to use non-organics if the results are right. Out here you can't label fertilizer organic if it has micro-nutrients in it. Labeling confuses, and as people become a bit more savvy they understand that a fertilizer that's not organically labeled, can still be made from natural products.

Customers are looking for information. The trend in our industry to label generation x and y uninterested in gardening  is about to explode.  Generation y especially is very interested in gardening, just not what we in the garden center industry have come to expect. Hydroponics and indoor gardening are huge, and going to get bigger. Don't know much about it?  Maybe that's why you are not seeing the younger generations in your store. Don't let your current pre-conceived notions about this side of the business take over. Like organics from 30 or so years ago, it's the fringe gardening element that will shape the future of our businesses. Stop in your local hydroponic shop and check out the free magazines, and handout's this industry has. This side if the business is enjoying a huge growth spurt.

Color should still be a good mover. People do want to brighten up their corner of the world. Four inch and smaller size annuals and perennials should still sell well. Bulb sales are dead. I don't know what will energize that aspect of the trade. I am so tired of having to put on sale the majority of bulb's we buy in. Again, this is California so bulb sales we're never what they we're in other parts of the country.

I believe we are about to see a continuation of the explosion of interest in gardening we saw last year.  Never the less it will still be a tough year for nursery businesses that don't take a hard look at the changes going on, and themselves make some real changes.