A View Ahead for 2024

A View Ahead for 2024

by Danny Summers

Looking ahead or forecasting can certainly be tricky. Your crystal ball or binoculars, in this case, can often be "foggy." It seems to work best simply to take in all the indicators you can, lay them on top of a "gut feel" and top it all with years of experience from you and your team. Maybe then what you see will be less "foggy" and closer to what really will happen. And even then, just like Tim Quebedeaux's Dynamic Budget, you will need to be in a position to adjust and adapt mid-season.

I would like to share several observations that could help us get a glimpse into the 2024 season... without so much of a "foggy" vision.

First, let's look back. We know both in 2020 and 2021, your customers were either locked-down or simply staying closer to home and they spent much more time in their gardens with their plants. Your sales (and profits) reflect this. Both Average Sale and Transaction Counts grew and the combination of the two produced double-digit growth results.

Then in 2022, we saw Transaction Counts dip (around -12%) although Average Sale increased to help soften the year's sales declines. Keep in mind in 2022 we saw the largest levels of cost increases (both in product cost and freight) that had to be passed along in retail prices, helping to drive most of the Average Sale gains. However, even with Average Sale gains, the decline in Transaction Counts caused Sales to retreat from the 2021 high mark. In 2022, we also saw indications that travel rebounded from the previous two years as consumers had places to see and things to do, having been more restricted the previous two years.

Now in 2023, especially during spring, we saw Transaction Counts back into positive gains and Average Sale being near level with 2022 although now, year-to-date, KPIs indicate we will end the year about even with 2022 overall.

Looking ahead, we should first consider any major influences that could help shape our customers' plans and activities for Spring 2024 and beyond. We are seeing a flat economy with steady interest rates at a much higher level than recent years. The increasing wars and conflicts in both Europe and the Middle East have resulted in the U.S. State Department issuing a World-Wide Travel Caution Alert on November 1, 2023.

These factors may very well create a more stay-at-home approach for Spring 2024. And, as we well know, traumatic times creates the desire (and need) for connecting with nature and the garden. Troubles of the world can fade as we relax and focus on the garden. It's truely hort-therapy!

There is also Survey and Trend Data to consider. In the last several weeks we have seen two major sources share their results from their Consumer Survey or Consumer Trends studies. The first being Axiom Market Insights and their 2024 Gardening Outlook Survey.

When reviewing the Axiom Survey results, here's some key areas I think helps us in our 2024 projections:

Despite economic concerns, respondents spent more money on gardening in 2023 and plan to spend more money in 2024.

  • 48.5% of respondents reported spending more money in 2023 compared to 2022.
  • 53.5% of GenY respondents and 52.7% of GenZ respondents reported spending more money in 2023 compared to 2022.
  • Future spending for 2024 up 19.5% (those forecasting spending more) over 2022 and more than 60% more than 2020.
  • 45.8% of respondents plan to spend more money in 2024 than they did in 2023.
  • 55.8% of GenY respondents and 43.4% of GenZ respondents plan to spend more money in 2024 than they did in 2023.
  • Home Improvement (25.6%) and eating out (20.8%) were cited as the top 2 spending areas among respondents who spent less money on gardening 2023.

Respondents plan to plant more and expand their gardens in 2024.

  • 64.7% of respondents plan to plant more and expand their gardens in 2024.
  • 76.2% of GenY and 71.2% of GenZ respondents plan to plant more and expand their gardens in 2024.

Top 3 gardening projects for 2024 include curb appeal gardens, creating vegetable gardens and growing new kinds of vegetables and fruits.

  • 57.6% of respondents reported their #1 2024 project is creating front of the house plantings that increase the curb appeal. For Gen X respondents, this percentage increases to 61.4%.
  • 44.1% reported creating vegetable gardens as their #2 project.
  • 36.9% reported growing new kinds of vegetables and fruits as their #3 2024 project. For Gen Y respondents, this percentage increases to 45%.

You can download and see the complete (free) Axiom Survey results - simply click on the report image above.

Another major source for us to consider is Garden Media Group's annual 2024 Garden Trends Report.

This report begins with this introduction and reminders of previous years' major focus and projections:

We scout global consumer trends from home design to fashion, consulting media and experts worldwide. This report is a go-to resource for the green industry viewed over 10k times annually. We are featured in top outlets like The New York Times, Better Homes & Gardens and more.

Our Track Record:

  • 2003: Predicted container gardening craze
  • 2004: Spotted the surge in vegetable gardening
  • 2007: Flagged the renewed interest in native plants
  • 2009: Anticipated the trend of vertical gardening
  • 2018: Forecast the rise of plants for wellbeing
  • 2021: Projected the rise of tech and AI in the garden

As you read the seven major areas highlighted in Garden Media Group's 2024 Report, it emphasizes the continuing trends by the expanding group of younger customers. Many of their concerns, desires, wants and needs to address what is important to them looks to Nature, Plants and Gardening. Just what Garden Centers can offer.

You can download and see the complete (free) Garden Media Group's annual Garden Trends Report - simply click on the report image above.

All of this points to opportunity ahead. The larger challenge will be attracting, engaging and encouraging the growing audience who loves what you offer!

And speaking of this challenge, this Thursday's GROUPtalk LIVE Session – Marketing Needs for the Future can help. Details are below. Don't miss it.

A View Ahead for 2024 may be somewhat foggy but considering these trends and indications and with the right planning and management each week, I feel we have an exciting Spring 2024 ahead!


Sharing is at the heart of The Group and your ideas are very important. If you have any trouble logging into The Group WebSystem, please let me know. Are you and your staff all subscribed to our eLists such as GroupEs, Retail-Grower, Retail-Landscape, Owners-Only, and a number of others? Need help subscribing? Let me know so I can show you how you can sign up.

Thanks for sharing!

Danny Summers
[email protected]
Tel: 678-909-7770
Cell: 678-761-7145

REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Tim Quebedeaux, Sid Raisch, John Kennedy, Jean Seawright, and of course Danny Summers are included in your retainer!

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