As the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the country in the early part of 2020, many people were quarantined at home for days, weeks, or months. Because of the lockdowns, consumers changed their buying habits. They changed not only how much they were purchasing but also what they purchased and how they made those purchases. Even though the changing work environment hampered numerous industries, the green industry had a favorable year because people were spending more time at home due to quarantine and/or teleworking. For instance, the number of adult Americans who reported working from home grew from 20% before the pandemic to a little more than 70% during the peak of lockdowns (Parker et al., 2020). As a result of the lockdowns, the green industry experienced an estimated 8% increase in revenues for plant and landscape items (e.g., pots, fertilizers, etc.) from Jan. 2020 to July 2020 compared with the same period in 2019 (Campbell et al., 2021).
The increase in sales in 2020 was driven by a combination of increased purchasing by long-term buyers and new entrants to the market. Firms relying on these trends (increased purchasing by buyers and new entrants) to make future decisions need to have a better understanding of whether consumers will remain in the market and of the characteristics of consumers likely to remain in the market. As noted by Campbell et al. (2021), 62% of respondents noted they intended to return to prepandemic purchasing levels; however, the other 38% intended to maintain their postpandemic purchasing levels.
Because many consumers anticipate reverting to their prepandemic green industry product purchasing and activity levels, it is essential to understand who will be remaining in the market and who will be exiting the market. Therefore, the goal of this study was to conduct an exploratory analysis of how the pandemic changed the willingness of participants to garden in 2020, and their intentions as the country moves away from the peak pandemic levels in 2021. We hypothesized that demographics would have a role in gardening participation in 2020 and 2021. Notably, we expected age to have a pivotal role in beginning to garden and in the intention to continue gardening. Previously, Baby Boomers (born in 1964 or before) spent the most on gardening, and younger consumers (i.e., Millennials, born in 1985 or after) comprised the largest group to begin gardening activities (Gardencentermag.com, 2016). Therefore, we expected that younger consumers would be more likely to garden in 2020 because of the pandemic but also more likely to not garden in 2021. We further hypothesized that working from home and loss of household income because of COVID-19 would positively impact gardening because respondents would have more time to grow a garden and have an increased need to produce their own food because of the loss of income.
Abadi, M 2018 Even the U.S. government can’t agree on how to divide up the states into regions 20 May 2021. <https://www.businessinsider.com/regions-of-united-states-2018-5>
Campbell, B., Campbell, J.H. & Rihn, A. 2021 Impact of the coronavirus pandemic on plant purchasing in the Southeast Agribusiness Intl J. 37 1 160 170 https://doi.org/10.1002/agr.21685
Flagg, L.A., Sen, B., Kilgore, M. & Locher, J.L. 2013 The influence of gender, age, education, and household size on meal preparation and food shopping responsibilities Public Health Nutr. 17 9 2061 2070 https://doi.org/10.1017/S136898001300 2267
Gardencentermag.com 2016 Survey says more people are gardening, even Millennials 10 Aug. 2021. <https://www.gardencentermag.com/article/national-gardening-survey-2016/>
Hall, C. & Knuth, M. 2019 An update of the literature supporting the well-being benefits of plants: A review of the emotional and mental health benefits of plants J. Environ. Hort. 37 1 30 38 https://doi.org/10.24266/0738-2898-37.1.30
National Gardening Association 2021 What gardeners think survey 2021 6 June 2021. <https://gardenresearch.com/view/national-gardening-survey-2021-edition/>
Parker, K., Horowitz, J.M. & Minkin, R. 2020 How coronavirus has changed the way Americans work 6 June 2021. <www.pewresearch.org/social-trends/2020/12/09/how-the-coronavirus-outbreak-has-and-hasnt-changed-the-way-americans-work/>
U.S. Census Bureau 2019a Age and sex: 2013–2017 American community survey 5-year estimates S0101. 6 June 2021. <https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=ACS_17_5YR_S0101&prodType=table>
U.S. Census Bureau 2019b Quick facts: United States 6 June 2021. <https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US /PST045219>
U.S. Census Bureau 2020 Educational attainment in the United States: 2020 6 June 2021. <https://www.census.gov/data/tables/2020/demo/educational-atta inment/cps-detailed-tables.html>
Wolfe, A 2013 Christine Lagarde: On top of the world 20 Apr. 2021. <https://www.wsj.com/articles/christine-lagarde-on- top-of-the-world-1380934428>
Zepeda, L 2009 Which little piggy goes to market? Characteristics of US farmers’ market shoppers Int. J. Consum. Stud. 33 3 250 257 https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1470-6431.2009.00771.x