BBQs and furniture top GCA’s trade report again

Gardeners keen to make the most of their outdoor spaces in July (2021) helped boost furniture and BBQ sales, according to the Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) recent Barometer of Trade (BoT) figures.

The report shows sales of these home entertaining items were up for the month by 71.62% year-to-date and there were also increases in 10 of the 13 recorded categories.

Iain Wylie, GCA chief executive, explains: “These strong figures for July suggest outdoor entertainment and alfresco dining have continued to dominate. There has been an increase in demand as people have either decided to do more hosting at home, and outside, or have found they have been unable to book holidays in the UK due to such high demand for and lack of availability of holiday accommodation this year, post-pandemic.

“With the ending of restrictions in July, people were entertaining outdoors with friends and family and the hot weather towards the end of the month helped fuel demand further.

“A significant category within our sector that has been massively hampered during the past 17 months has been catering. It has been a rollercoaster for our members with cafés and restaurants. In June, we saw a massive increase from 2020 with sales up 2,481.82% year-to-date. This figure is an indication of the severe limitations that were affecting the hospitality industry prior to summer 2021.

“As we came into July things evened out somewhat. Garden centre catering operations re-opened on July 4 in 2020, so we have been able to compare 2020 and 2021 figures, with a caveat or two. People were very keen last year to be out and about after the first lockdown and the good weather then also helped boost sales. Things still aren’t as settled as they would normally be, so catering is down slightly year-to-date by -5.37% for July this year.

“This may also have been due to the impact of changing rules this year in July with dining numbers and service restricted. Plus, the ‘pingdemic’ which led to staffing shortages when people were required to isolate and, in some cases, some facilities had to close completely when a member of the team tested positive.”

Houseplants have continued to sell well in July with sales up 60.42% and outdoor plants up 57.29%, year-to-date.

Iain adds: “Our members are still seeing a good number of newer, younger gardeners as they continue to participate in their new pastime, which they took up last year in the lockdowns. They are proud plant parents, keen to add to their floral and foliage families, whether they have a windowsill or something bigger to fill.”

Other categories that performed well in July compared to the same month in 2020 include gifts, with sales up 54.19% and clothing up 49.61%, although last year it must be remembered that many centres were trading with in a limited capacity due to supply shortages in these departments.

Hard landscaping was also up year-to-date to 48.42%, attributed to on-going garden improvements to match the need to entertain outdoors this summer.

The garden sundries category leapt up to 42.05% this July, year-to-date, too and seeds & bulbs also performed well this month at 38.15% up on last year.

The food hall and farm shop category was up at 41.34% as well and pets and aquatics saw a 31.49% increase on 2020’s figures.

Overall sales for the month were up year-to-date by 1.86%.

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