Peak plant sales season is now: What really is the largest factor contributing to sales?

The month and day of the week is more closely tied with plant sales than weather patterns.

The weather in mid-Michigan has finally turned for the better as our 10-day forecast is predicting instant summer-like temperatures. But is this change in weather pattern a good predictor of sales? Will people start flocking to their local garden center to buy plants today? The answer: maybe.

Michigan State University Extension researchers Bridget Behe and Kristin Getter, along with Chengyan Yue from the University of Minnesota examined the daily retail sales data from three separate years from 42 garden retailers in the Midwest (Ohio, Michigan and Indiana) who were selling herbs, vegetables and flowering annuals. They were interested in the main factors that contribute to plant sales. Some of the variables that the researchers examined were: day of week, month, mean total precipitation, mean solar radiation, and the minimum and maximum mean temperatures.

The researchers found that the most important factor contributing to plant sales were the month and day of the week. Wednesdays had the overall slowest sales, while not surprisingly sales peaked on Saturdays. The second highest day for herb, vegetable and flowering annual sales were on Sundays. Sales were the greatest in the month of May compared with April, while they were lower in June and July. Also not surprisingly, a higher maximum daily temperature resulted in increased sales while a lower minimum temperature yielded slower sales.

However, there were also some very surprising results in their analysis. They found that the variation of weather patterns did not correlate to the sales data as closely as the calendar information. Furthermore, precipitation also was not a significant factor in the variation of sales data. Therefore, growers should not blame the weather solely for a slow sales season.

As we approach the busiest weekend of the year in the greenhouse business, be prepared for the Saturday rush and ensure that you are fully stocked on product and have enough sales staff to handle the masses!

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