Gardeners rejoice – your favorite time of year has arrived! Spring and summer are peak seasons for the nation’s 9,200 nurseries, garden centers, and farm supply stores as shoppers stock up for the growing season.

The gardening industry is coming off a robust period of growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 18 million new gardeners picked up the hobby during the pandemic, according to the National Gardening Association, and many of them have stayed with it.

Let’s take a closer look at the nursery, garden center, and farm supply industry:

The big picture

    • The industry is highly fragmented; the top 50 firms account for about 41% of industry sales.
    • Large nursery and garden centers, such as Armstrong Garden Centers and Stein Garden Centers, have multiple locations but typically operate in one or two states. Tractor Supply is the largest farm supply retailer in the US. Most companies are small, independent operations.
    • The average nursery, garden center, or farm supply retailer operates out of a single location, employs 14 workers, and generates $3-4 million annually.
    • Overall employment by nurseries, garden centers, and farm supply stores rose 3.6 percent in March 2023 compared to a year ago, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Top trends for nursery, garden center, and farm supply stores

    • Demand Remains Strong — Despite inflationary pressures, gardeners are feeling optimistic about 2023 and plan to continue spending on their hobby, according to Axiom’s 2023 Gardening Insights Survey reported in Garden Center Magazine.
    • Food Gardening Gaining Ground — Consumers are spending more annually on food gardening. Food gardening grew during the pandemic, and food inflation has seen demand continue. According to a forecast from Markets and Markets, sales related to fruit and vegetable seeds are forecast to grow about 8 percent annually through 2025.
    • Younger Gardeners — Younger gardeners in the Millennial and Gen Z categories are emerging as a growing customer group for garden centers. So-called “plant parents” in the younger generations show off their gardening accomplishments on social media.
    • Omnichannel Shopping — The rise of pandemic restrictions caused many garden centers to rethink their operations to better serve customers with limited in-person contact. Many turned to an “omnichannel” approach where customers could order their products online and have them available for curbside pickup or home delivery. Many centers are keeping their online business going as an additional revenue channel after the pandemic.

>> View recent developments in the nursery, garden center, and farm supply industry or one of the hundreds of industries we cover

Risks for nursery, garden center, and farm supply stores

    • Sensitivity to Economic Conditions — Gardening is considered a leisure activity, making it vulnerable to economic downturns as consumers may cut back when finances are tight. While farm supply retailers are somewhat less vulnerable to economic conditions, sales of big-ticket items (such as farm equipment) can drop when customers struggle financially.
    • Staffing Issues — Finding quality staff and managing high labor costs continue to be the biggest hurdles for independent garden centers, topping the list of biggest challenges for the fifth year in a row, according to the 2022 State of the Industry report by Garden Center Magazine. Garden centers are raising their starting wages to better compete for staff, as labor shortages remain.
    • Higher Producer Prices — Producer prices for the industry have been steadily increasing since 2018. The preliminary Producer Price Index for April 2023 was 12 percent higher than April 2022 and nearly 70 percent higher than April 2018.
    • Highly Seasonal Sales — Sales for farm supply retailers are highly seasonal, with peaks during the spring and fall to support crop schedules. Nurseries and garden centers experience stronger sales during the spring and summer when most landscaping and gardening activities occur.

Looking ahead

In this blog, we have only shared an overview of what is happening in the nursery, garden center, and farm supply industry. The economic landscape is shifting for garden retailers due to economic conditions such as inflation, supply chain issues, and labor costs — creating a drag on industry growth, as with many industries.

>> Dive deeper into the nursery, garden center, and farm supply industry* by purchasing the full Industry Profile Report for $125.

Whether you are focused on the nursery, garden center, and farm supply industry or one of the hundreds of industries we cover — Vertical IQ’s Industry Profiles provide time-saving, actionable content you need to close more deals and win more business!

*Don’t focus on the nursery, garden center, and farm supply industry? See the more than 920 Industry Profiles and 3,400 local economic reports that are available for purchase.

Image credit: Julia Filirovska via Pexels

Subscribe to our blog: