Food, glorious food!

Andrew Burton why a garden centre need a strong food proposition.

2020 – A year of change, reflection and challenge!

Garden Centres have faced a year unlike any other, where usual trading habits changed dramatically and customers’ changing expectations – including their reasons to visit them for ‘wants rather than needs’ – created new challenges.

With the government shutting garden centres in March alongside all other non-essential retailers, we saw the emergence of food halls and farm shops as one of the main propositions for many garden centres through the spring. 

This emergence isn’t a new one; garden centres have been developing their food offer for a number of years now.  However, it became apparent that businesses offering essential goods, especially those with a strong food offer, had an edge over their competitors during lockdown.

The industry is all too aware that customer buying habits have changed, but what hasn’t changed is that customers still want great food that is traceable, alongside additional products that can support the weekly shop (such as household goods), with the convenience experienced at the supermarket, all within a safe environment.   Garden centres and farm shops are often able to offer this full proposition to their customers and therefore have a location many others can’t provide.

The growth of the food proposition across garden centres over the past five years has been steady but also significant; however 2020 has seen a real hunger (excuse the pun) for a food department to create itself as a destination in its own right.   Alongside increased online sales, click-and-collect and home delivery services, food is something many garden centres continue to develop further to encourage both existing and new customers to their centres.

This article first appeared in Garden Centre Retail magazine.