Lockdown gardening boom left to wither on the vine

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Britain’s lockdown-inspired gardening boom appears to have wilted in the heat of the cost-of-living crisis.

Spending on gardening fell to £27m in June, down 17pc on last year, representing the area with the biggest fall as measured by Nationwide, which monitors customers’ spending patterns. People also spent 10pc less on dating apps, while the amount of money that went on subscriptions – to services such as Netflix – fell 9pc.

During lockdown, millions of people took up gardening for the first time. Demand for bedding plants and shrubs soared by almost 50pc between 2020 and 2022, according to Tesco.

But the boom appears to be over.

Sales at garden centres sunk by 20pc in June compared to 2021, according to the Horticultural Trades Association, with the biggest drops recorded in high-end areas such as garden features and tools. 

David Denny, Director of Research and Insights at the HTA, said, “Our data shows that spend on gardening has fallen compared with the same period for 2020 and 2021 where the lockdown saw three million new gardeners take up their trowels.”

Mr Denny pointed out that garden centres will often see a decline in sales in June. “A fall in garden spending in June compared with May mostly reflects the normal seasonal pattern of consumer spending on gardening which tends to hit its peak in May,” he said.

He added that sales of gardening ranges in garden centres were up 28pc compared with June 2019, giving hope the market is still “relatively buoyant compared with other areas of the economy”.

Across the board, people are spending less on non-essentials, Nationwide found. There was a 6pc drop in discretionary purchases in June compared to May.

Mark Nalder, Head of Payments at Nationwide Building Society, said: “As we head into the holiday season, we expect budgeting to continue being a feature as the nation prepares for even higher costs.”

Britain’s economy is widely predicted to slide into recession as consumer spending falls in the face of soaring bills and interest rates. Supermarket Asda said disposable income had dropped by 18pc in June, marking the eighth month in a row households have seen their spare cash falling.

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