December sees some garden centre success but price rises loom

Christmas garden retail sales have seen a small uplift, but it is upcoming wholesale price rises that are on retailers minds.

The Gardens Group managing director Mike Burks said: "December was six per cent up on a very strong 2015 so very pleased especially when hearing the high street results. We bought significantly more so very pleased it paid off.

"Just heading to Harrogate Christmas buying and expecting to see some testing price rises because of the pound weakness."

Bents Home & Garden managing director Matthew Bent is also visiting Harrogate Chrismas and Gift Fair (8-11 January). He said Christmas price rises had begun this season and that Bents would watch for further wholesale increases from suppliers and at trade fairs this spring.

He said Christmas sales went "overall not as well as expected but we did run out in certain areas". Bent added that "competition is getting fiercer" for Christmas trade from a range of retailers who now sell Christmas trees and decorations. To combat this, he said "we're looking for more and more premium products that are different to what supermarkets and other people are selling".

Like-for-like retail sales in December fell 0.1 per cent year-on-year, according to BDO. However, online sales in the month rose 19 per cent year on year.

With exchange rates still heavily punishing imports, prices of products such as Christmas goods are set to rise by more than 10 per cent.

The European Commission's gauge of UK retailers' price expectations for the coming months more than doubled between November and December, a record increase to levels nearing the all-time highs reached in 2011, the last time consumer price inflation topped five per cent.

The British Retail Consortium will publish December sales data on 10 January, with a result showing a small overall gain predicted,

Latest figures from Visa show consumer spending rose by 2.6 per cent year-on-year in December, and 2.8 per cent in the final quarter of 2016.


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