CUSTOMERS were not put off visiting their local garden centrein February (2013) despite the cold weather according to figures from the Garden Centre Association?s (GCA) Barometer of Trade (BoT) report.
Sales during the month were up 7.1% in comparison to February 2012, with indoor categories performing much better than weather-dependent sections.
Peter Burks, Chairman of the GCA, explained: ?January was a bit of a miserable month for garden centres so we are really pleased that despite the colder than average weather we had in February people were still spending at our member garden centres.
?Gift sales were up 27.81%, catering up 14.9%, food hall and farm shop up 12.06%, clothing up 10.34% and houseplants up 2.03%.
?While customers were happy to venture out to visit garden centres, the figures have highlighted that they weren?t so keen to head outdoors as outdoor plants sales were down 2.49% and seeds and bulbs down 5.34%.?
The GCA BoT reports are compiled using actual sales figures and provide an up-to-date trading position statement.
Peter added: ?In 2012 we saw a significant shift of sales away from more traditional categories into less weather-dependent categories and we think this trend will continue for as long as the climate remains unpredictable.
?Our members have adapted well to ensure that they are still making sales even when people aren?t tempted to be out planting.?
The BoT reports produced by the GCA allow member garden centres to compare their trading positions with other centres.
The GCA represents nearly 200 garden centres nationwide.
Through sharing information and its inspection programme the GCA helps members to achieve high standards in customer service, plant quality and reliability.
Matthew Bent, Managing Director of Bents Garden & Home in Glazebury, Warrington, said: ?The weather is one of the biggest factors in our industry. With such poor conditions over the past few years we have really focused on strengthening others areas of the business, such as our Fresh Approach Restaurant and our events calendar to include even more family-focused events.
?We?ve also been strengthening departments including gifts, kitchenware and clothing, which are less weather dependent.?February was a wash out in terms of the weather, but we performed well within the industry and I believe this to be down to the hard work that we have put in to developing other areas of the business.?