State of the Industry 2016

State of the Industry 2016

See the results of our annual survey to find out what your peers are saying about the market and their own businesses.

November 30, 2016

The demographic shift that’s playing out in America has a dramatic effect on the economy. The 78 million people who make up the baby boomer generation will continue to retire, allowing some 67 million gen Xers to take over. That’s a deficit of 11 million people. Perhaps the 83 million representatives of the millennials will fill in the gaps. We’re facing uncertain times. Who will buy our products? How must we change our marketing messages? But economist Charlie Hall says with uncertainty comes opportunity.

Most growers we surveyed for our annual State of the Industry report were not shaken by these uncertainties. Confidence in the growth of the market remained at 84 percent this year – same as 2015.

Respondents said the dollar value of sales in 2016 increased 58 percent compared with 2015, and about 65 percent expect sales to increase in 2017. Some 54 percent said profits were up this year over last year, and double-digit profit margin increases totaled 24 percent. For more facts and figures on sales and profits, click here.

Field-grown trees and container-grown shrubs tied at 21 percent for crops with the highest sales volume in 2016. Container-grown perennials ranked third with 15 percent. Last year, container-grown shrubs were in the top spot with field-grown trees in a close second, followed by container-grown perennials.To learn more about what your peers had to say about production and crop changes, click here for the full report.

Approximately 72 percent raised prices in 2016, and 70 percent indicated they plan to raise prices next year. Way to dig in and make positive changes! For more on pricing and marketing, click here.

Labor costs and labor shortages present a huge problem for the industry. Almost three-fourths of the growers surveyed said hourly rates have increased this year compared with last year, and a little more than 50 percent said annual salaries increased this year. For more on the topic of labor and wages, click here.

With seven years gone since the end of the Great Recession, it’s time to start thinking about the next downturn. Find out when the next recession is expected to occur and how to prepare for it with more expert insight from Charlie Hall.

Succession planning is crucial to the survival of this industry. Yet more than half of the respondents in this year’s State of the Industry said they do not have a succession plan in place. Learn some of the reasons they gave, as well as advice on how to get started right here.

If you own or manage a wholesale nursery, whose primary business is the sale of trees, shrubs and perennials, and you didn’t receive a link to this year’s State of the Industry survey, please send an email to to be added to the list.

Photo: Vicki Blayney | Jerney Studios