The food hall and farm shops category within garden centres saw positive sales during January (2021) according to the Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) Barometer of Trade report.
Garden centres in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland remained closed during the month, which affected the overall picture greatly; however centres in England were permitted to remain open as essential retailers.
Iain Wylie, GCA chief executive, explained: “January was a bit of a bleak month for everyone. Despite it being a brand-new year, we all found ourselves back in lockdown after Christmas and unfortunately, the respective devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland ordered garden centres to close for the month and unfortunately, they still remain closed, with little news on when they might be open again.
“Consequently, the national figures for the month are very disappointing and there were decreases in many categories for centres in England too. A few English centres in the highest COVID risk areas took the understandable decision to close for a few weeks out of concern for the safety of their teams and the local community. Cafés and restaurants drive footfall in January and hospitality remains closed. It should also be noted that with many centres selling out of Christmas products in December and centres not running their usual January sales, this was also another footfall catalyst not present this year.
“The weather was, at best, miserable so in many ways it was encouraging to see people continue getting outside and tending to their plots for their health and wellbeing and in readiness for spring.
“Garden centres have become one-stop shops, so people could get their essential gardening items and also food and produce from food hall and farm shop departments, while also purchasing gardening necessities. Because of this, food hall and farm shop sales for the month were up 6.48%.
“All of the remaining categories were down for the month, however this is completely understandable as people wished to remain at home as much as possible and to follow Government guidelines during the lockdown. Also, we’ve had plenty of inclement weather including gales, heavy rain and snow, which has kept people indoors and unable to garden.”
Sales in houseplants were down -17.5%, outdoor plants were down -49.29%, seed and bulb sales were down -18.32% and garden sundries sales were down -27.16%.
Furniture and barbecue sales were down -33.28%, sales in pets and aquatics were down -29.24%, gift sales were down 46.44% and hard landscaping sales were also down -27.46%.
Iain added: “Although centres in England have been open, their restaurants and cafés have remained closed and so catering sales were down -96.68%. Clothing sales were also down -54.15%.”
Overall sales for the month were down -55.32% with a year-to-date change of -55.32%.
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 end of the prior month after all member garden centres have submitted their results.
The BoT reports allow members to compare their trading positions with other centres.