The rising trend in growing your own produce, which heightened during the recession, has allowed gardening retailers to outperform the rest of the retail market.

A market report by Verdict found expenditure on gardening products jumped 10% in 2009 to £4bn, well above overall retail spending, which declined 0.4%, and expenditure on the non-food sector as a whole, which fell 4.2%.

DIY retailer B&Q said it has had a great year for gardening products and predicted another buoyant year for the sector.

A spokeswoman said: “2009 saw more Britons than ever before decide to grow their own fruit and vegetables.“B&Q’s sales of vegetable seeds rose 30% last year and predicts 2010 will see even more people get the grow-your-own habit.”

Verdict retail analyst Joseph Robinson said: “A heightened austerity is driving a trend towards ‘grow your own’, while the inexpensive nature of gardening as a pastime saw it grow in popularity among more frugal consumers.”

More consumers choosing not to holiday abroad in 2009 meant the garden became an important social venue, he added.

In contrast to gardening, expenditure on DIY products slid 3.1% to £8.7bn. Robinson said: “This is as a result of the recession compounding the weak demand in DIY due to a depressed housing market and a general decline in consumers’ affiliation with do-it-yourself products.”

Robinson warned, however, that both gardening and DIY are likely to have been hit this year by the bad weather, with the sector’s stores being mainly out of town.

However, gardening is continuing to benefit from an ageing population profile, rising environmental concerns and the increasing popularity of garden centres.

DIY superstores have also been trying to offset the impact of weak DIY categories by focusing more heavily on gardening.

The confidence in the sector was highlighted when Tesco-owned garden centre chain Dobbies unveiled a new-look store and revealed plans to quadruple its size to 100 outlets over the next 10 years (Retail Week, February 26).