17 May 2016
Stay-at-home Russians Prove Boost for Garden Accessories Sector
Economic pressures see Russians take to landscaping their rural retreats, rather than holidaying abroad.
With many Russians cutting back on overseas holidays and also ruling out domestic vacations, gardening is looking to be the unlikely beneficiary of this enforced thrift. The country's tough economic situation has seen many residents resigned to spending their downtime in their dachas, the summer houses that have long been a feature of Russian life. As many such retreats boast sizable plots of land, this has proved a huge boost for the gardening goods and accessories' sector.
Such items account for around 20% of the sales of DIY stores across Russia. The sector is dominated by a number of overseas players, notably OBI (Germany), Castorama (France), IKEA (Sweden) and K-Rauta (Finland). There are, however, also two sizable domestic businesses competing for their own share of the market – Maxidom and Metrika.
Traditionally, all of these chains begin their annual gardening offensive around mid-March, allocating sizable dedicated zones to showcase their horticultural ranges, as well as their considerable array of related accessories – fencing, garden ornaments, greenhouses, tools, outdoor lighting and hosepipes.
This year, almost all of the retailers in the sector have increased their garden accessory ranges by around 40%. In line with this, sales of lawnmowers, leaf blowers, hosepipes and pumps for outdoor water features are said to have risen by around 30%. There has been a similar increase in the sales of garden furniture and barbecue equipment.
As the rouble has stabilised a little against the dollar and the euro – possibly even appreciating a little compared to this time last year – prices for gardening equipment remain unchanged compared to 2015. This has seen the market share of cheap gardening imports from Belarus drop substantially, with consumers now willing to spend on more expensive items, many of which are perceived to be more durable and of a higher quality.
This change in lifestyle patterns offers a genuine opportunity for South East Asian distributors and manufacturers with an interest in the garden accessories' sector. With many Russians now willing to invest in higher value products, it is recommended that all such would-be suppliers review the preferences of Nordic consumers, given that there is a substantial degree of crossover – in terms of consumer aspiration and demand – between the two markets.
According to figures from ROSSTAT – the Russian Federal Statistics Service – outbound tourism in Russia dropped 31% in 2015. In terms of recent history, this is the most significant decrease the country has seen, easily exceeding the 25% drop witnessed in 1998, following the foreign exchange default.
Leonid Orlov, Moscow Consultant