With economic pressure on all our minds at the moment, you may have thought that manufacturers of garden tools would be keeping prices as low as possible in order to preserve their business over this difficult time. Unfortunately this is not the case; in fact some manufacturers have increased prices twice already this year.
The situation is not confined to any particular sector of the market; top quality garden tools have increased in price by very similar amounts to cheap garden tools. There have also been some huge increases in the garden power tools market which because of their higher prices mean that some increases run into hundreds of pounds per tool.
At the GLEE trade show last week and at the Saltex show the week before I managed to speak to a number of the manufacturers there. They explained that there are a number of reasons for these price increases, but most of the manufacturers listed the following three:
1. Increased cost of materials: most metals, timber and plastics (made using petroleum) have increased over the last two years. In the case of steel (used in the vast majority of garden tools) it has increased by 33% in the last 18 months and stainless steel by 25% over the same period.
2. Transport costs: this is mainly due to increases in the price of oil which is not only used in the manufacture of tools and plastics, but also used to deliver garden tools all around the world. With the majority of hand and power tools now made in China, the 30% increase in the cost of crude oil (over the last two years) has had a considerable effect on shipping and haulage costs.
3. Currency fluctuations: many garden tool manufacturers do not pay for their tools in pounds sterling. Whilst the dollar (used to pay for goods made in China), though volatile, has remained consistent over the last two years, the Swiss Franc (Victorinox, Felco) has increased by 20% against the pound and the Japanese Yen (Silky Saws, Okatsune, ARS) by a similar amount.
So, what should hard pushed gardeners do to save money at this difficult time? Firstly, you should buy the best quality you can afford. It is a false economy to buy cheap gardening tools, they do not last and may cost even more in the long run if you need to undertake costly repairs or even replace them. Secondly, do your homework before purchasing. Often websites (like www.qualitygardentools.com!) offer better prices than garden centres and garden shops, so doing some research can often save you pounds – although remember to check the hidden costs like delivery. Thirdly, some manufacturers like Bulldog Tools, Haemmerlin wheelbarrows and Ethel Gloves have held their prices for over a year; this means that with annual inflation in the UK currently running at 5%, these items are cheaper than they were last year! Finally, buy British! With transport costs as high as I can ever remember them, if the tools you buy only have to travel down the M6 rather than half way around the world, less of the total cost will be spent on shipping and a larger proportion into the making of the tool.
While prices will undoubtedly go up in future months, Quality Garden Tools assure me that they will continue to talk to suppliers in an attempt to keep prices down and get better discounts for their customers. Also, they promise to discount every single product below manufacturer’s rrp to give you a bit more for your hard earned cash!