Data on gardening retailers further confirm the popularity of such activities. The number of Italian stores specializing in gardening products has been growing significantly, going from 162 to 425 in ten years. Garden Team is the leading Italian retailer operating in the gardening sector, with 27 stores nationwide and a total retail surface of 131 thousand square meters. The northern and central regions count the highest number of stores. More specifically, Veneto was the region with the most gardening stores, followed by Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany. Meanwhile, some Italian regions did not have any stores for those following their green thumb, such as Aosta Valley, Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Sicily, and Sardinia.
The preferred distribution channel for gardening items in Italy are specialized stores close to home and within shopping malls. Online shopping holds a relatively low share, with about 13 percent of consumers buying on websites. However, the need for increased health precautions due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could affect consumer decisions on where to shop. According to a recent survey, some respondents declared that they were willing to increase or to start purchasing gardening products online. In addition, almost a quarter of respondents wanted to consider other distribution channels safer for health.
The effects of the pandemic could also be seen in the sales value of gardening products, which rose significantly in May 2020. During the lockdown, which began in March 2020, many non-essential stores had to close. In May, Italy started to ease emergency measures and the garden equipment sales value grew again after a steep drop in March and April. In particular, data show that above-ground pools experienced the largest increase, followed by barbecues. However, the first quarter of 2020 was not profitable for the whole sector and the reasons might not be related only to the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, the snowplow sales dropped consistently. This decrease might be related to the mild winter temperatures experienced during the first half of 2020.