‘Horti-couture’ – Selfridges’ experiential garden targets growing green fingered shoppers

High-end department store, Selfridges, has become the latest retailer to, quite literally, grow its retail offer, launching new in-store garden centres as it seeks to capitalise on the blooming ‘green pound’ of UK consumers who’s appetite for gardening has blossomed over the course of the pandemic.

Earlier in April, High Street stalwart, Next, announced it was teaming up with DIY and garden retailer, Homebase, to offer gardening products and green-fingered expertise in six UK stores.  The launch, which was timed to coincide with the reopening of non-essential retail, allowed customers to combine shopping for clothing and homeware with gardening products – from bedspreads to flower beds – in a bid to drive footfall and tap into to the lockdown driven gardening boom.

And that seems a shrewd move; last year the number of gardeners rose by 3 million, with nearly half of them aged under 45, the Horticultural Trades Association estimates, while in May, garden centre sales were up 23% compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to Horitculture Week.

Selfridges’ ‘horti-couture’ pop-ups in its London, Manchester and Birmingham stores will see its ‘potting sheds’ sell own-label compost, as well as exclusive themed clothing ranges from Prada and a kitch range of hipster garden gnomes in fluro colours, headed by Gary the Gnome.  It also provides a platform for experiential retail – a trend we continue to see as bricks-and-mortar retail looks to build ‘experience’ that differentiates it from online into its offer – with expert talks and workshop events running until 11 July.  There’s even a dial-a-gardener service where shoppers can seek gardening advice from experts.

“We know our customers are more interested in gardening and greening than they ever have been. And so we are playing with the idea by bringing the essentials of a typical garden centre to our stores.”

Hannah Emslie, Creative Director at Selfridges

This isn’t the first time the department store has tapped into garden trends and outdoor entertaining, having installed retail experiences on its famous central London roof garden since the 1920s, when Selfridges ‘pleasure garden’ offered society shoppers the opportunity to play a round of crazy golf.  This trends was rekindled in 2009 and the retailer has continued to build experiences into its rooftop retail offer, combining retail and hospitality, to drive footfall and create compelling ‘reasons to visit’.

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