Online Only: Complete Industry Pulse Survey Responses

We asked a cross-section of our readers what they’re predicting for Spring 2009 and how they’ve reacted to the current economic climate. The answers are from the beginning of February, and we had exactly 100 people respond at the time we compiled the data. Here’s what retailers are looking at when it comes to buying, hiring and their approach to spring this year.

Which of the following best describes your business?
Independent garden center      82.8%
Grower/retailer                        24.2%
Mass merchandiser                  0%

Where are you located?
Northeastern U.S.                   31.3%
Midwestern U.S.                     37.4%
Southeastern U.S.                  16.2%
Southwestern U.S.                   1%
Western U.S. 11.                     1%
Other                                       3%

Are you having more difficulty securing or continuing lines of credit so far in 2009?
Yes                                       18.1%
No                                         69.1%
I don’t use lines of credit          12.8%

Has it been more difficult than last year finding the live material you want for spring?
Yes                                         7.6%
No                                         92.4%

If yes, in which categories are you having trouble finding product? (check all that apply)
Annuals                                   0%
Perennials                              37.5%
Trees                                     25%
Shrubs                                  62.5%
Veggies & Herbs                     0%

Are you changing the way you hire this spring?
Yes–I’m hiring fewer people    53.2%
Yes–I’m hiring more people      2.1%
No                                         44.7%

Have you changed the amount of events you have attended or will be attending this year?
No                                                                      51.1%
Yes–We will be attending more events                   3.2%
Yes–We will be attending fewer events                 45.7%

What do you anticipate being your biggest challenge in 2009? (check all that apply)
Competition from other independent garden centers   0%
Competition from big box retailers                            7.5%
The economy’s impact on customers                     77.4%
The weather                                                         32.3%
Access to credit                                                    3.2%
Other                                                                    3.2%

What’s the single most important factor to your success this spring?
A change in the economic climate                          21.6%
A more positive outlook from the media                   15.9%
Good weather                                                        51.1%
Customers embracing ‘staycations’                          9.1%
Other                                                                     2.3%

Are you changing the amount of SKUs you order for spring?
Yes                                           59.8%
No                                             42.4%

If yes, how are you changing the amount you order?
Ordering a similar number of SKUs, just less of each product      37.1%
Ordering less SKUs overall                                                       56.5%
Ordering more SKUs                                                                  6.5%
Ordering more of each product                                                     0%

Are you changing the way you buy?
Yes                                            89.1%
No                                              10.9%

If yes, how are you changing the way you buy? (check all that apply)
Buying more just-in-time, hoping to
turn smaller amounts quickly and reorder                           69.1%

Buying more early with longer terms                                  19.8%
Buying more locally                                                          33.3%
Buying smaller shipments                                                 48.1%
Buying larger shipments less frequently                               6.2%

What is your advertising mix this spring? (check all that apply)
Television ads                                                                   23.1%
Radio ads                                                                         36.3%
Print newspaper and magazine ads                                     76.9%
Online newspaper and magazine ads                                  28.6%
Direct mail                                                                        54.9%
No advertising at all                                                             2.2%
Other                                                                                19.8%

What is your main focus this spring?
Bringing in new customers                                                    24.2%
Catering heavily to existing customers                                   50.5%
Selling to whoever walks in the door                                      25.3%

Are you using any of the following technology to build relationships with existing customers? (check all that apply)
Updated website                                                                  87.2%
A consistent eNewsletter send                                              61.5%
A blog                                                                                10.3%
A forum                                                                                3.8%
A social media page (ex. Facebook, MySpace)                      11.5%
A Twitter account                                                                  3.8%
Other                                                                                  10.3%

How are you projecting 2009 sales to be compared to 2008?
Increase of less than 5 percent                                                29%
Increase of 6 to 10 percent                                                       17.2%
Increase of more than 10 percent                                               5.4%
Decrease of less than 5 percent                                               10.8%
Decrease of 6 to 10 percent                                                      14%
Decrease of more than 10 percent                                               6.5%
Stay the same                                                                         17.2%

Have your sales expectations for 2009 changed in the last three months?
Yes-they are lower than previously thought                                   51.6%
Yes–they are higher than previously thought                                9.7%
No                                                                                            38.7%

Are you doing anything differently this year (i.e. new events, advertising or marketing) to attract and inspire customers?

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