Why is gardening so expensive? The true cost of Brexit on your garden unveiled

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With HGV drivers in low capacity, the UK has faced empty shelves, empty fuel tanks and a struggling energy market since the nation’s departure from the European Union. As the pandemic begins to recede, many believe the true effects of Brexit are beginning to show as supplies dwindle and prices rise – with the same being true for gardening supplies across the country. Express.co.uk spoke to the experts to find out what’s driving the increased cost of plants, landscaping materials and gardening supplies in the UK.

After almost two years of pandemic-living it’s safe to say that no industry has been left unaffected by the financial effects of Covid.

With garden retailers reporting shortages back in March this year, a stunted supply of gardening supplies was described as a “perfect storm” of Brexit and the pandemic, according to the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA).

Earlier this year demand for gardening tools was two to three times higher than normal after an extra three million people took up gardening during lockdown.

Shortages of bedding plants and garden furniture were put down to the imbalance of supply and demand – with retail supplies to garden centres falling by around 50 percent since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Is Brexit the cause of rising costs?

While the effects of Brexit on the UK’s imports and exports have been stark for many months, many argue that the pandemic has clouded our judgement on the true cause of these issues.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Cass Heaphy, digital director at paving and patio suppliers, Paving Direct said:
“Brexit has had an impact on the costs of materials related to gardening, but it is limited, there have been small increases in import costs from European suppliers and haulage.

“However, the real driver behind the current price increase is COVID-19 which has significantly disrupted the global supply chain, namely sea freight and container costs.

“It has also impacted fuel and energy costs, which consequently impacts all pricing across the board.”

How much has the cost of gardening increased?

Import regulations and costs have changed over the past year and come 2022, could cost the gardening industry millions.

From June 1, 2021, the Government began charging inspection fees on plant imports to the UK.

According to Financial Times, the industry estimates that the controls, which will also see physical inspections at border control posts now starting next July, will cost it £30m-£50m a year.

Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Lyndan Orvis, E-Commerce Manager at Hayes Garden World said: “All plant imports from Europe now have to be inspected by DEFRA before we are able to sell them in store.

“This has led to some supply delays and an increase in administration time and costs to us and our suppliers.”

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How will rising costs affect you?

As costs rise for suppliers, the knock-on effect on customers is beginning to show.

Delays in import checks and increased costs have already been highlighted by the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, 2021, which was subject to stringent checks and delays when importing plants from the EU.

One spokesman for the HTA said: “Ornamental horticulture is the only sector to have been working within suchrestrictive conditions and there has been little recognition from the Government of the immense burden this has placed upon horticultural businesses.”

The effect of increased shipment checks and taxes will ultimately trickle down to the customer, says Cass Heaphy of Paving Direct.

She added: “We’ve experienced rising costs from sea shipments for our materials, container costs from Asia, specifically China and India have risen by 700 percent since the pandemic started – this then has a knock on effect to the consumer if the added cost cannot be absorbed.”

Lyndan of Hayes Gardening World stressed that customers are likely to see around a five to 10 percent increase in costs over the next 12 months as companies have to recoup their costs.

While the UK is feeling the effects of Brexit and the pandemic in full force, the rising cost of gardening is fast-becoming a global issue.

Lyndan told Express.co.uk: “This impact we are seeing in the cost of gardening materials specifically, is the same across the globe.

“The price increases are present in most countries for many products – so logically Brexit is not the factor driving the inflationary pressure globally, but the disruption of markets and commerce due to things like production plants undergoing Covid-related lockdowns and therefore creating supply shortages.”

The future of gardening post-Brexit

Retailers have shared that shortages are making lots of various components, chemicals and packaging difficult to get hold of, creating further disruption to supply which will also drive up prices.

While there is no immediate fix to the problem, the future may not be so bleak for keen gardeners across Britain if the supply and demand level out.

Lyndan revealed to Express.co.uk: “Much of the rest of the issues we currently face have been caused by the increase in demand for Garden products throughout Europe.

“We are finding that European suppliers are prioritising the increased demand in their own country before allowing goods to flow over to the UK, where profits are lost in transit and shipping.

“I think many of the effects of Brexit will not really surface until the industry settles down from the pandemic and the increased demand on the world distribution infrastructure.”

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