How can garden centres successfully cater to last-minute gift buyers

Buying a gift can be a challenge, with many tending to procrastinate until the last minute. A good example of this was Christmas, with nearly one in five adults in the UK reported to have planned to do part of their shopping on Christmas Eve, according to a survey from The Green Insurer.

An area retailers should aim to capitalise on. Garden centres in particular who could take advantage of this unique opportunity with a strategy to provide last-minute gift buyers, with everything they require for their shopping experience. 

Why people do last-minute shopping?Image of lady in a garden centre, sat using a laptop surrounded by plants - How garden centres can successfully cater to last minute gift buyers

Before beginning a strategy for last-minute shoppers, it is important to understand the phsychology around why it becomes a habit. A key issue with buying a gift is finding time to go to the shops and spend time searching for the perfect present. According to the Office for National Statistics, the average weekly working hours in the UK is 36.4 hours per week as of December 2023, which is an average of 7.28 hours a day.

Why do people become last-minute shoppers?

It’s important before building out a strategy for last-minute shoppers to understand the psychology around how it becomes a habit. One of the key issues with gift buying is finding the time to go to the shops and put quality time into finding the right present. According to the Office for National Statistics, the average weekly working hours in the UK is 36.4 hours per week as of December 2023, which averages out to around 7.28 hours a day. 

Taking into account the time required to commute to and from work, as well as the need to unwind before and after working day, it can be hard during the week to find time to reach the shops. Especially when most retailers’ opening hours are during regular working hours, meaning having to spend precious weekend time shopping.

Gifts on the go

One of the most convenient options for last-minute gift shoppers is ready-to-go gifts, available at almost any retailer. If you're looking for gift ideas, garden centres can be a great place to start. They offer a wide range of options, from essential pre-packaged gardening tools to more specialised and complex ones that are perfect for gardening enthusiasts. For those short on time, offering seedlings and gardening accessories for people of all skill levels is a thoughtful and quick option that will surely please any gardening enthusiast on your gift list.

Gift cards and vouchers - quick wins

There is no greater quick win for gift-givers who aren’t sure about their recipient's wants or preferences than gift cards and vouchers. In fact, local gift card redemptions are helping spending in high streets and retailers, with research from Miconex finding that a 69% uplift in retail from gift cards has been seen to date in 2024.

Garden centres can make the most of this increase in gift card purchasing and redemption by setting up displays for gift cards near the tills. This makes it even easier to reach and check out quickly. Plus, stocking greeting cards from high-quality greeting card suppliers for all occasions nearby creates a more seamless shopping experience when they’re in a rush.

This feeds into making the checkout process simpler. During peak hours, garden centres can ensure that shoppers are being seen efficiently by having extra staff on hand, in addition to optimising the technology used at point-of-sale for quicker transactions. Contactless payments are an important modern technological improvement for retailers, as well as self-service checkouts that allow shoppers to check themselves out quickly.

Promoting online and mobile shopping

Embracing online and mobile shopping is a surefire way to drive sales in the digital age, especially as so many shoppers prefer to buy online, with more than 2.7 billion people purchasing products through the internet.

Garden centres are no different from other retailers and should make the most of ecommerce continuing to evolve, firstly by optimising their websites to make them more accessible to visitors. Once the website is easier to use, purchasing gifts from home and having same-day delivery or pickup from the centre offers more options for last-minute shoppers who need to make quick purchases.

Extending opening hours

To better assist last-minute shoppers and their schedules, extending opening hours can be beneficial. Not only does this help those in need of quick gifts, but it also offers all customers the chance to shop flexibly when they may not have been able to previously. Additionally, it allows for the chance to bring in more talented staff members to assist with the new hours who can help drive sales and assist shoppers.

Taking a customer-centric approach to retail helps to cater to last-minute gift buyers. It requires foresight and adaptability, but by maximising the products available and providing options to quickly pick out and purchase a gift for the recipient, garden centres can be appropriately set up to meet these demands.