Seed suppliers, growers and garden centre managers are licking their wounds after the worst summer’s trading in living memory.
Spring predictions of drought, followed by the wettest summer in 100 years, meant shoppers stayed away from garden centres – while consumers were distracted from gardening by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics.
Garden and DIY giant B&Q saw its profits in the UK and northern Europe to the end of July slashed by £30million to £371million.
Chief executive Ian Cheshire said: “This was a tough first half with unprecedented wet weather throughout the key spring and summer seasons. This affected footfall and demand for gardening and leisure products which account for a significant part of our first-half sales.”
Devon-based seed brands Suttons and Dobies also reported a dismal summer. Sales director David Arnold said: “This is the worst year on record. I’ve been in the market for 29 years and it’s the worst I’ve ever experienced.”
David blamed the economic recession, weather, low consumer confidence and a weak housing market for the slump. He said June had 71 per cent more rainfall than average, with 32 per cent less sunshine than normal: “The upshot is that people have spent less on their gardens.”
Meanwhile at Suffolk-based Mr Fothergill’s, Johnsons and DT Brown, retail marketing manager Ian Cross said: “The cold, wet weather has been a real killer for seeds – it was a poor start. Even grow-your-own has taken a step back for the first time after six or seven years of growth.”
Garden centres, the backbone of the UK’s £5billion horticulture industry, saw sales fall by 10 per cent during the first seven months of the year, compared to 2011.
The Horticultural Trades Association’s Andrew Maxted said: “It’s not just been a poor season; it’s been appalling. We’ve had poor seasons before, but not on this scale.”