Bad weather hits the UK’s garden centre sales

Catering was one of the best-selling categories in March, according to the Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) Barometer of Trade (BoT) report.

The UK’s Garden Centre Association (GCA) said that chilly weather, rain and a lack of spring sunshine has hammered sales. However, catering and food hall/farm shop categories refused to be a washout last month.

The industry body’s Barometer of Trade (BoT) report for the month reveals catering sales were up 13.48 per cent compared to March 2022, and food hall/farm shop sales were also buoyant at 10.73 per cent.

Peter Burks is GCA’s newly appointed CEO.

Peter Burks, GCA CEO, explains: “It’s great to see restaurants and farm shops/food halls doing so well, which gives me a lot of confidence that customers have not forgotten us during the traditionally quieter gardening months and are coming in to meet friends and family, to get out of the house, even with the threat of a downpour, and to buy their groceries or gift food items at our member garden centres.

“It’s very positive to see they are still visiting in good numbers, but, in March, the weather wasn’t encouraging them to get outside to garden just yet. In fact, the slight upward trend of 0.76% in houseplants sales for the month suggests people were very much focused on being indoors and possibly purchasing a pot plant for Mothering Sunday.

“As is always the case when we get a wet month, gardening and outdoor product sales figures suffer. Outdoor plant sales were down -32.01 per cent, seed and bulbs down -13.08 per cent and garden sundries -31.82 per cent.

“However, GCA members’ centres fared better than the full industry figures from the Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) suggest. The HTA shows a -28% shortfall in sales overall.”

The GCA’s March BoT figures also showed, perhaps unsurprisingly, that furniture & BBQ sales were down by -57.95 per cent and hard landscaping sales by -42.59 per cent.

Pets and aquatics sales were down -5.17 per cent, clothing sales -2.4 per cent and gift sales -1.57 per cent.

Overall sales for the month were down -21.42 per cent, with a year-to-date variance of -10.87 per cent.

Peter adds: “Of course, we should also remember that the trading landscape was very different this time last year. Covid was still very much a looming presence and people were just emerging from another worrying period, so were keen to get out and about and were spending more at the same time.”

The GCA BoT reports are compiled using actual sales figures and provide an up-to-date trading position statement. They are made available mid-month following the prior month’s end after all member garden centres have submitted their results.

The BoT report allows members to compare their trading positions with other centres.

Through sharing information and its inspection programme, the GCA helps members to achieve high standards in customer service, plant quality and reliability.

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