90% of Canadians will garden during COVID. Here's how they will shop

This will year will feel very different for Canadians buying gardening supplies.

There are two major emotions felt by consumers; anxiety and sadness. Each will have conflicting outcomes for how people will shop this year.

On one hand there is the sadness associated with social distancing, caused in part by a lack of outdoor time or things to do — particularly for parents. Here, gardening could serve as a morale booster.

On the other, there is the anxiety over the continued COVID-19 threat that would prevent gardeners going out shopping altogether.

Ordering online would be the obvious way to solve the dilemma, but how many gardeners are prepared to switch from shopping in-store?

Here’s what the Caddle data shows:

How many Canadians will be gardening this spring?

There is little to suggest that Canadians are being put off gardening by concerns about going out to purchase supplies. 54% of our panel expect to be gardening more in the coming month.



This includes people who say they are unlikely to garden in a typical week.

Despite the pandemic, 59% of our panel said it is likely they will purchase gardening products during the pandemic. Again this includes those who told us they normally don’t garden.

This means that the market is growing for all categories of gardening from plant material, to soil to plant and lawn food. Which retailers will win the battle for the increased demand?

Local nurseries or garden centres are the preferred destination for 40% of those who tend to plant in the spring. This is followed by Costco (14.3%), Walmart (11.7%) and Home Depot (10.7%)

Will Canadian gardeners shop online?

Given the concerns many Canadians still feel about going to places where social distancing is more challenging, will we see more online shopping this year?

Traditionally, shoppers’ preference has been to purchase gardening supplies in-store.  However in 2020, we can see that online purchasing is now preferred by almost 40% percent of regular gardeners. 

This breaks down as 28.5% preferring buying online with curbside pickup, and a further 10.9% preferring online ordering with delivery.

However this still leaves the majority of gardeners who prefer to visit a store to make a purchase.

Excluding those that said they were unlikely to garden in a typical week, we see that the preference among gardeners is still for in-store experiences.

More than half of regular gardeners (54.4%) selected in store as their preferred method of shopping – almost double the percentage that preferred curbside pickup.

Which customers prefer online more?

The biggest factor in which way our panel prefers to shop for gardening supplies is by age group.

Looking specifically at those that indicated they were likely to shop during the pandemic, two thirds of Canadian Baby Boomers prefer in-store shopping, while the number for Millennial and Gen Z Canadians is just under 50%.

What products do gardeners want to shop for online?

Whatever their preference for purchase method, there is consensus on what types of goods gardeners would look to buy online.

Seeds and plants is the top category our panel said they were likely to shop for online, followed by soil, then tools.

Even among those who said their preference was for in-store shopping 38% said the item they would shop for online would be plants and seeds.

What does this mean?

The split between online and offline means gardening retailers need to cater to both needs at the same time. The majority still favour in store shopping, but a significant minority prefer online.

Failure to offer online shopping, effective curbside pickup or delivery options risks seeing these customers go elsewhere.

On the in-store side, we know from previous research relating to the grocery segment that customers put a high premium on effective social distancing policies. 

Almost half of our panel told us they would switch stores if their preferred location was not enforcing social distancing properly.