Many of the people DIY week spoke to say the heatwave this summer has helped raise awareness further about the need to protect and help wildlife, as water and food was scarce during the hot, dry summer. Mr Tracey adds:

“Wildlife hospitals were

seeing record admissions because of the heatwave, with both pets and animals affected by the heat.” As a result, many gardeners have started to pay more attention to wildlife but it is also important to inform them about the potential dangers in their garden and what habits they might need to change to ensure the safety of the creatures they share their outside space with. “There are a number of reasons hedgehogs end up in a wildlife hospital but often it is because they have eaten slugs that have been poisoned by slug pellets,” explains Mr Tracey. They get injuries from garden strimmers as well – that is more common than you think. In fact, the majority of their injuries are through human intervention.” There is a growing trend for using natural products in the garden and taking note of how certain chemicals might affect pets and wildlife, so if customers are concerned, there is the opportunity to suggest using alternative slug deterrents, such as wool pellets, slug and snail traps or copper tape.

Feathered friends Gardeners’ love affair with attracting and feeding birds in their gardens has seen huge growth in recent years and more education about the food they are putting out has created opportunities for retailers and suppliers. Kate Risley from

the British Trust for Ornithology says the organisation is seeing real changes in birds’ behaviour as a result of the huge amount of food now available in the UK’’s gardens, “with species changing the way they are feeding to take advantage of the new food sources.” However, not all changes are so positive, with many diseases now more prevalent amongst species due to poor maintenance of feeders and bird baths. Wildlife World sales & marketing director David van der Meulen says: “Gardeners need to clean and maintain bird feeders. You wouldn’t eat a meal from the same dirty plate the next day would you? People need to treat birds like themselves or as they would their dog or cat.” And,

the public’s interest in

wildlife extends outside of the garden, with feeding the ducks still a favourite past time for many. But, Brambles’ David Tracey warns that throwing bread into your local pond or river, only serves to fill birds up and “then stops them from foraging for

bread also gets left by

Companies like Brambles and

Wildlife World are extremely active on social media, which they feel is a valuable tool in engaging the consumer and getting important messages out. Wildlife World posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and has three employees dedicated solely to producing informative, ‘how to’ videos. “We are going to be doing lots of vlogs and blogs, as well,” explains Mr van der Meulen. “If social media is done well, there is engagement. Consumers hate to think they are being sold to – it makes them switch off.” The current big message both brands are putting out is around the hazards posed to wildlife during Bonfire Night. With the brands doing a lot of the

their nutritionally-balanced diet”. He adds: “Some birds get what is known as ‘angel wing’ from a bad diet. “The

ducks and sinks, rots and attracts vermin and pollutes the water.” Alternatively, there are now a number of specialised swan and duck foods on the market, “but you can also try feeding them rice, peas and lettuce”, explains Mr Tracey. Whilst some councils now put up signs asking people not to feed birds bread, the job of educating the public about issues such as this falls mainly to wildlife charities and suppliers.

hard work for retailers, it provides the perfect opportunity to tap into that wealth of information to help support customers and, potentially sell more product while you’re at it. Whilst food is important, creating habitats for wildlife in the garden is just as important, explains Mr Mr van der Meulen but, often, gardeners “don’t understand where to site things in their garden”. He continues:

“If you have a

solitary bee hive you need to site that on the warm side of the garden because bees need sun. Birds, on the other hand need the cooler side so they don’t overheat if it’s a hot day. Also, nest boxes should be away from feeding stations because it can be noisy and disruptive.”

Shaping your offer In terms of creating a retail offer in store, it doesn’t necessarily have to occupy a huge footprint, says Brambles’ Mr Tracey. “You only really need to do one food for hedgehogs; just a good-quality dry food – maybe in a couple of different sizes,” he says. “Even if you’re doing a good-quality dog food in your pet section already, that’s fine for hedgehogs too. They tend to prefer chicken flavours, so just flag that up to customers, so they know it’s suitable.” In terms of bird food, go for

mixtures that contain plenty of naked oats, sunflower seeds, and peanut granules, says RSPB national account manager John Capper but “avoid bird seed mixtures with wheat and barley grains, split peas, beans, dried rice or lentils. These are added to some lower seed mixes to bulk them up but only attract the larger birds such as pigeons and doves.” This can be linked to sales of bird feeders and nesting boxes. If you have space, carry a specialised swan and duck food


To help your customers make the most of feeding and looking after the wildlife in their garden, advise them:

• To use quality food with a good nutritional content • To clean their bird feeders and baths • Site items like nesting boxes, feeders, bird baths and insect homes correctly in the garden • Provide habitats for bees • Plant insect-friendly flowers to help pollinators • Not to use slug pellets and, instead, use natural deterrents like copper tape or wool pellets

which will appeal to your younger customers. Bird baths are also an important line. “People forget about water,” says Mr van der Meulen. “This summer, animals were struggling to find water.” With a few simple tips, you can add value to a bird bath instore, showing how it can double up as a wildlife water source, giving customers more reasons to buy the product. “You need to be sure to provide steps for hedgehogs,

and stones for

bees and insects, so that different species will be able to drink from it”, explains Mr van der Meulen. There are also plenty of other add- on items, such as hedgehog houses, feeding bowls and cleaning products – see overleaf for more on these.

Adding value So, what can retail businesses do to drive the category other than making sure they have the right products in store? Suppliers and organisations DIY

Week spoke to describe the benefits of in-store workshops and talks, more educational and informative POS, or even allowing a wildlife charity to set up a stall in store for a day to raise money and engage with customers to offer tips and advice. There is also a lot to be said for working with local schools and the local community – engage people and get them interested, so they want to learn more and, ultimately, buy more. With a survey out this week from

Wyevale Garden Centres showing that 82% of the British public wish to attract more wildlife into their garden – there is a huge opportunity to capitalise on if you do it right.


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