Summer sees furniture and BBQ sales hot up, says GCA

The Garden Centre Association (GCA) has recently released its Barometer of Trade (BoT) for June (2021) revealing furniture and BBQ sales were up by 94.88% year-to-date.

The report also shows a year-to-date increase in 11 out of 13 categories proving that garden centre demand has been positive at the start of the summer.

Iain Wylie, GCA chief executive, explains: “The great weather at the start of June led to outdoor entertainment and alfresco dining remaining popular. People were continuing to spend more time in their gardens and outdoor living spaces. Many centres received a ‘second wave’ of furniture deliveries in June, delayed from earlier in the season, going some way to fulfil the pent-up demand from customers and keeping sales buoyant.

“There was an anticipation of the ending of restrictions in July and people were preparing to be reunited with friends and family and to be able to host them in their gardens and to fully resume entertaining at home.

“Another key category, which has been continuously affected throughout the last 16 months is catering. It has seen a massive increase from June 2020 with sales up 2,481.82%. Although it has been hampered significantly by the limitations affecting the hospitality industry, which needs to be taken into consideration. The increase is unsurprising as hospitality was closed until July 4 in 2020, so last year the figures relate to a few centres offering a limited takeaway menu.

“Many restaurants and cafés remained closed until mid-May this year and these facilities have had to endure difficulties with changing rules and the impact of the Government’s track and trace system which led to staffing shortages when they were required to isolate.”

As centres had only just re-started their catering operations in May this year, the year-to-date figure remains down at 26.56% for June.

Iain adds: “The nation’s new gardeners also appear keen to continue. Houseplants have remained top sellers with sales up 80.56% and outdoor plants up 73.17%, year-to-date. Our love and appreciation of natural things clearly flows across generations linked with the proven benefits of gardening and plants to our wellbeing and mental health.”

Other categories that performed well in June compared to the same month in 2020 include clothing, with sales up 55.52% and gifts up 67.26%, although last year it must be remembered that many centres were trading these departments in a limited capacity, and in some cases, they were closed in June last year. The food hall and farm shop category was up at 50.22% and pets and aquatics up 36.63%.

Iain added: “As we move towards autumn/winter members will be wary of the potential for another wave and how this may impact on our sector. Although we managed it successfully in 2020 and as a result, we remain confident for the run-up to Christmas, especially as many customers will still consider GCA garden centres as safe places to shop, with their excellent track record of having appropriate measures in place during the pandemic.

“Despite uncertainty as to when restrictions would lift, nine categories have seen sales performing above 50% on the year-to-date. We’re thrilled to see that these figures have remained high and positive, are still performing consistently and are better than in 2019.”

Overall sales for the month were up year-to-date by 8.43%.

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