Question Time June

Question Time June

 

This month’s question: Are rising house prices having a positive impact on garden and DIY product sales, as people look to improve their homes rather than move?

  

Increasing house prices and the wait for new builds are encouraging home owners to improve and enhance their property, rather than look to move on. Is this therefore having an impact on sales for garden centres and DIY retailers, as customers waiting to move decide to do work on their homes to make the best of the situation? Have retailers noticed an increase in sales in DIY and garden landscaping purchases?

This month we are asking what can retailers do to encourage customers to visit their centres and encourage those bigger sales in the DIY and hardware departments? Could DIY demonstrations by industry experts, striking POS and deals on essential products and encouraging the whole family to get involved be just a few possible ways to boost footfall and sales?

Mike Hall, Managing Director, Deco-Pak

People tend to spend more on improving their homes and gardens in these situations. If you are waiting for houses to come onto the market you are left with nothing other to do than continue to work on your property, adding extensions or improving paving, paths or driveways.

There is also a feeling of wealth that comes from knowing your property is worth more. So even if homeowners aren’t looking to sell, they are more likely to consider investing in larger scale improvements. Weather, as always, is a factor, and since the awful floods earlier this year, we should also see sales coming from those wishing to spend more time outside, making repairs and trying to make the most of drier and sunnier weather.

UK house prices increased by 9.1% in the year to February 2014, up from 6.8% in the year to January 2014. These rising house prices can have a positive impact for retailers, however their product range must be relevant to consumers. Amateur home improvement enthusiasts looking to lay their first patio, will need to be reassured that they are buying the right materials for the job. POS for essential materials, such as sand, patio slabs and gravel, must be eye-catching and make it easy for the consumer to see what they need to buy for different projects.

Steven Palmer

Financial Director, Squires Garden Centres

Rising house prices are being driven by demand far exceeding supply. It is generally good news for the economy that after several years of stagnation demand is rising principally through government backed initiatives.

Undoubtedly when people move house they spend significant amounts on DIY and gardening as they seek to change their new house to reflect their own personalities and tastes. This expenditure trickles through the economy and improves confidence levels which can only aid consumer spending.

In certain house price hotspots people may be priced out of the market and seek to improve / extend their existing properties which may impact positively on garden expenditure but more likely DIY.

Diana Gass

Director, Creative Garden Centres

House prices have been fairly static in Northern Ireland and are still well below the peak in 2007, probably about 30%-40% lower. Having said that, there is definitely more confidence in the economy and there is a tendency to stay put and improve your property rather than move.

We have had a good improvement in sales of higher priced furniture and BBQ’s. We are not big stockists of DIY products and have anyway noticed a trend away from DIY here. The “new builds” for first time buyers, which seem plentiful in this part of the country, come with finished gardens usually fenced, paved or turfed and even landscaped so our customers buy pots, bedding plants and possibly some climbers or perennials.   These gardens are increasingly small and there has been a decline in the sales of hedging, trees and the traditional larger shrubs.

We have long felt that many of our customers are garden decorators rather than traditional gardeners. They don’t want too much work – so, easy to grow vegetables and herbs for containers are popular and colourful planters accompanied by decorative pretty items. It is our aim to try to display these items in our centres to give ideas and inspiration for what can be achieved at home with very little effort. Demonstrations and displays of how to grow these easy and successful plants are very popular and a great way to bring families to the centres.  We also encourage groups of local Children to visit with their teachers which is very popular with the schools and often leads to kids bringing their parents back to visit later!

Will Armitage

Chairman, Garden Centre Association

As someone who has had their house on the market for more than two years, I’m of the opinion that prices don’t appear to be rising much, if at all, except in the South East.

One of the main influencing factors in our industry will always be the weather. As far as I’m aware we are yet to see any major increases in garden centre sales linked to people embarking on larger gardening projects.

We are trading well on last year and the year before with sales more than 20% up but the current figures are no different to the last four years in fact they are still a little behind. All the recent sales figures tell us is how bad the spring season has been during the last two years.

As far as boosting sales, doing what we do well is the key. Good value products, which are displayed well in easy surroundings with excellent customer service, will always draw customers and with an emphasis on family the surroundings instantly become more relaxed

Ben Crowther
Ben Crowther
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