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Crisis? What crisis?

The economies in our united Europe are still pretty different from each other. While some markets bloom, others are close to wilting. This, of course, has its effects on the garden and leisure industry, too.

“Way to go!” they may say in Germany and The Netherlands. Their GDP (gross domestic product) is growing and their groovy home markets are a good place to knock down. The spending behaviour is very promising for the leisure and garden industry, especially now with the beginning BBQ-season. Almost every night TV ads for barbecues and bangers are on the box and DIY-superstores sell a chunk of barbecues, charcoal and garden furniture.

This, however, is different in Spain. Although the Spanish economy is not nearly as sick as the one in Greece, they are in dire straits. Youth unemployment only recently reached its peak by almost 50 per cent and Spanish retailers eat their heart out for a speedy recovery of the home market. The situation in Italy is almost the same, but, furthermore, the Italians had to overcome yet another government crisis. Could it get any worse? Yes, it could, if you look at Portugal. Their GDP has fallen very steeply and thus the home market almost vanished. But according to Murphy’s Law, if one thing goes wrong, there will be soon another problem. And so it did in Portugal. The government increased VAT on plants from six to 23 per cent, payable within 45 days – although the government itself takes 200 days to settle its bills. Those nurseries that did not go bust as a result of the enormous VAT-rise had to fire 50 per cent of their work-force.

Hope dies last could be the motto for the nurserymen in the UK. The British currency is not joined to the Euro and thus they don’t have to pay their contributions to the rescue of the Greece economy, as the Euro-countries must do. However, the Sterling is bound by the exchange rate. If the Euro rate moves over €1.25 against the Pound the UK-market would become that more appealing to overseas competition. That is what the UK horticulture hopes for and it looks like they don’t have to hope until the cows come home.

The European garden and leisure market is astir. Some companies might go to the wall, as they already did in Portugal, but those who survive the crisis will be stronger than before. Even if the production level went down, this would make life better for those that remain. How do you see the future in your country? Rosy? Obscure? Dark? And what do you do to survive the crisis?

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