Furniture sales fell in February

Sales of garden furniture plummeted by nearly 30% in February compared to the same month last year, according to the Garden Centre Association’s Barometer of Trade.

CEO Peter Burks says it was “one of the worst performing categories of the month”. He adds: “Lots of centres had furniture marked down in January sales, so customers were able to pick up bargains then and sales have since slowed down; however, we haven’t had any weather to encourage sitting out in the garden yet, which is of course needed to prompt outdoor furniture sales.”

Categories which also saw a drop in sales were pets and aquatics, gifts, hard landscaping, clothing and houseplants.

Catering and gardening categories, on the other hand, were the ‘standout successes’ of February. Sales in catering were up 15.8% compared to the same month in 2022. Outdoor plant sales were up 6.58%, seed and bulbs up 8.76% and garden sundries 6.31%.

Burks explains: “It was great to see customers out in good numbers and spending well in cafés and restaurants in February. It shows the value of having these sort of additional attractions to keep customers visiting all year round. Food hall and farm shop sales were also up 5.21%.

“February was a very dry month for the time of year, which could explain the positive sales in more traditional categories as gardeners made the most of the weather and made a start on their gardening jobs for the season.”

It has been an “encouraging start to the year” though, says Burks, “given the general economic concerns everyone is facing.” Overall sales for the month were up 1.29% with a year-to-date variance of -1.02%.

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