Selfridges has launched garden centers in its stores in London, Manchester and Birmingham, seeking to capitalize on the gardening boom that accelerated during the pandemic.
The retailer said the new centers have their own compost and a range of Prada-exclusive themed clothing, and are part of a creative theme for the year called Good Nature.
According to the Horticultural Trades Association, the number of gardeners increased by 3 million last year, nearly half of whom are under 45 years old.
Garden centers include a “potting shed” where customers can chat with experts and participate in workshops and events that run from June 25 to July 11. There is also a telephone problem-solving consultation service.
“A garden center is evocative yet familiar and has provided rich inspiration to our teams, literally and creatively,” said Hannah Emslie, Creative Director of Selfridges. “We know our customers are more interested in gardening and greening than ever before. And so we play with the idea by bringing the essentials of a typical garden center to our stores.
A range of own-brand gardening products are sold in-store and online, and Gary the Gnome, a limited-edition mascot, is featured on a collection of caps, bags and t-shirts with slogans such as “Herb your enthusiasm ”and“ Horti-couture ”.
There is also a 16 piece line called Shakedown Garden, inspired by the Grateful Dead Shakedown Street album, giving a botanical twist to the “tie-dye, skulls, bears and roses aesthetic”.
“We will be retailing plants, compost and garden gnomes alongside special and unexpected Selfridges products with a sense of fun and imagination as we continue to explore the fun of nature this year.” , Selfridges said.
Last week, the Office for National Statistics recorded a 7.7% increase in sales at “other” non-food stores as the public sought to spruce up their gardens for the summer. Google searches for gardening, from the location of garden centers to details of plants and accessories, doubled from May 2020 to May 2021.
“There is definitely a boom in gardening,” said Patrick O’Brien, UK retail research director at GlobalData analysts. “Clothing, leisure and vacations had nowhere to go during the pandemic, so people spent more on their homes and gardens. We can see this trend continuing throughout the summer. Using your garden as a place to socialize has also become a reality.
Iain Wylie, CEO of the Garden Center Association, said: “It was a great summer last year and with the lockdown, a lot of people got their first chance to do a little for the first time. We find this year that a lot of these really enjoyed it, it’s good for physical and mental health and well-being, and kept it as a hobby. The more you do, the more addicting it becomes.
Wylie said that, like many industries, gardening suffered from product shortages, especially in patio furniture.
GlobalData estimates that the greenfinger boom shows no signs of slowing down this year, with spending set to rise 7% to £ 3.1bn. However, O’Brien said if difficulties with activities such as holidays abroad and outings continued this summer, gardening would face significant competition for consumer leisure spending as the UK exceeds the pandemic.
“Whether gardening is a long-term boom, which retailers rely on its continuation may be debatable,” he said. “We are already seeing people investing in vacation bookings for next year, which shows that people are planning to reinvest their spending in [other] leisure sectors.
Last month, Selfridges was granted a license to host weddings at its flagship London department store.