The internet is now the fastest-growing distribution channel for garden products by far - and that online market will more than double by 2018.
So predicts the newly-published Internet Garden Market Report - 2014-2018 Analysis by AMA Research, which says that in contrast to the overall garden products market, online gardening sales have experienced substantial levels of growth in recent years. It estimates that the internet garden products distribution market is now worth over £300m at retail prices.
Selling over the internet tends to favour some product categories over others, says AMA, with garden leisure, garden equipment and horticulture being key products for sales online.
There are also significant differences in product mix between the specialists and non-specialist online retailers. For example, garden sundries and chemicals are dominated by the non-specialists, whilst the specialist e-tailers compete well in garden leisure and horticulture.
AMA says the internet garden market is still relatively immature and that it is expected to continue to show strong annual growth levels. It estimates that the UK internet garden products market will be worth £744m in 2018, more than twice its current size.
AMA director Andrew Hartley said that the internet had removed barriers to entry to the market, "which has allowed small and medium-sized specialist e-tailers to enter the garden products market, creating a new competitive dynamic."
He said that by 2018, the internet garden products market would account for an estimated 15% of the total garden products market, up from around 8% in 2013.
The report says that among key factors affecting the future prospects for the internet garden market are consumer spending levels, the pace of economic recovery and overall trends in online e-retail shopping.
Demand for garden products is also heavily affected by the weather, and as a result there are likely to be fluctuations of sales growth and decline on an annual basis.