A cold March challenges garden centre trade

The Garden Centre Association?s (GCA) Barometer of Trade (BoT) results for March (2013) have revealed that people were mostly buying indoor products at garden centres? during the month.

Clothing and food hall/farm shop were the only categories to see stronger sales as compared to March 2012.

Peter Burks, Chairman of the GCA, explained: ?The Met Office reported that March was the second coldest on record so this was bound to have implications on people?s buying habits.

?Footfall was down during the month as people were reluctant to head out into the cold and even when they were visiting our members they were staying inside the garden centres.

?Clothing was up 3.15% for the month as compared to March 2012 and food hall/farm shop up 10.22%, which is a great result.

?Unfortunately outdoor areas sales were poor. Outdoor plant sales were down 58%, seeds and bulbs down 42.56%, furniture and barbeques down 48.08% and hard landscaping down 44.52%.?

Overall sales during the month were down 31.99%.

Peter added: ?Although the figures aren?t great we weren?t surprised by them. The weather was so cold we knew people were unlikely to be spending a great deal of time on gardening projects and it does mean that when the weather picks up our members are likely to see a surge in visitors.

?With a warmer start to April and reports that the second half of the month will see temperatures return to average, we are feeling quietly optimistic about the rest of the season.

?There is nothing we can do about the weather but the fact that people were still visiting our members and spending money at garden centres? indoor departments when the weather was so dire is a great thing.?

The GCA BoT reports are compiled using actual sales figures and provide an up-to-date trading position statement.

The BoT reports produced by the GCA allow member garden centres to compare their trading positions with other centres.

Katie Cleary, Shop Manager at The Old Railway Line Garden Centre, which is located in Powys, said: ?Our outdoor area sales suffered during March with outdoor plants down 63%, seeds and bulbs down 49% and furniture and barbecues down 34.6% in comparison to the same month last year.

?During the past 12 months we have launched our new building, which includes a farm shop, florist and gift departments and a restaurant. This has been key in boosting our overall sales during cold months. In March we saw good sales in our new restaurant and farm shop.

?Other areas that did well for us during the month were gifts, up 39%, houseplants, up 29.4% and pets up 42.1% due to people buying more wild bird seed to help feathered friends during particularly cold weather.?

For further information, please call 0118 930 8918. Alternatively, please visit www.gca.org.uk, log on to www.facebook.com/pages/GardenCentreAssociation or follow the organisation on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GC_Association.

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