February is mixed month for sales

Sharp rise in manufactured goods sales, but plant categories dip

By Mark Hotton February was a mixed month for garden centres with sales of horticultural stock down 21 per cent compared with last year, according to the HTA’s Garden Industry Monitor. The total horticultural product market rose two per cent, with growth recorded in pre-planted baskets and containers (35 per cent), roses (39 per cent), and herbs (31 per cent). Those products falling were conifers (28 per cent), climbers (15 per cent), and aquatic plants (11 per cent). February accounts for six per cent of annual expenditure. Sales of manufactured goods saw a dramatic increase with sales in garden centres up 80 per cent to £45.8m, as people spent money on fertilisers, chemicals, pots and containers. Overall expenditure, which includes sales in DIY stores and other outlets, was up 16 per cent with supermarkets unlikely to have promoted gardening products during what was a wetter month. A wetter February may have helped to reduce the chances of a hosepipe ban but it also restricted the ability of people to get into their gardens. But for those who were able to, new lawnmowers to tackle the early growth were essential purchases with sales in this category up 16 per cent to £183m. Digging and weeding hand tools were also up seven per cent. The report shows garden centres are faring better this year so far, with year-to-date sales up 11 per cent to £111.7m. Retailers have already reported a strong March and April so upcoming Monitors should clarify where the industry is compared to recent weak years. Total retail garden expenditure was down four per cent for the month, and down one per cent for the three months to February. The UK’s total retail market grew five per cent for the month and four per cent for the previous three months.

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