GCA members see slight sales growth in August

Member garden centre sales showed an average overall increase for the month of 1.98% and a year to date growth of 4.09%.

Seed and bulb sales were up by 23.44% in August compared to the same month last year according to the Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) Barometer of Trade (BoT) report.

Outdoor plant sales were up 3.19%, catering was up 9.73%, food hall and farm shop sales were up 2.87%, garden sundries sales were down -4.48% and furniture and barbecue sales down -15.08%. Sales in pets and aquatics were also down -1.14% and hard landscaping down -6.2%.

Houseplant sales were up at 15.03% and clothing was up 14.74%.

GCA chief executive Iain Wylie said: "It’s great to see that customers have been out in force at their local centres and are still enjoying their gardens, particularly by purchasing bulbs and seeds to plant out in readiness for a colourful display next spring.

"The strong houseplant sales indicate that people also want a little more colour and life in their homes. It is pleasing to see that the trend of increased interest in houseplants is continuing and customers are coming to garden centres to fulfill the increased demand."

Kate Ford, Marketing Manager at Barton Grange Garden Centre, said: "Here in Lancashire, August was a mix of sunshine and showers and people were definitely still shopping for their gardens. We found that late summer perennials and grasses, in particular, sold really well during August."

Michael MacAulay, Retail Team Leader at Simpsons Garden Centre, said: "We’ve had a really big focus on spring bulbs to encourage customers to get planting. Our biggest sellers have yet again been traditional bulbs such as narcissus, tulips and crocus, however we’ve also seen an increase in bulbs such as alliums."

Gary Carvosso, Managing Director at Coolings Garden Centre, said: "Houseplants in August were 16% up and in September they are currently 73% up. Year to date the increase is 41%, driven by an increase of houseplant tables by 25%. We also moved away from almost entirely focusing on flowering to a larger selection of foliage plants and introduced a much better range of Cacti.

"Hardy plants had a 14% increase which was due to much cooler temperatures this year. August 2016 was actually too hot for gardening. Catering had another excellent month with an 18% increase.

"Overall so far 2017 is shaping up to be a great year for core gardening and catering yet again. In August 2017, the quantity bought (volume) in the retail sales industry increased by 1.0% compared with July 2017; with other non-food stores and non-store retailing as the main contributors to growth.

Office of National Statistics August figures showed compared with August 2016, the retail quantity bought increased by 2.4%; the 52nd consecutive month of year-on-year increase in retail sales.

Year-on-year contribution of food stores remains flat while there was a fall in the contribution of growth within petrol stations, showing that contributions to the overall growth came from non-essential items.

The underlying pattern in the retail industry is one of growth, three-months on three-months the quantity bought has increased by 1.2%.

Store prices increased across all store types on the year, with non-food stores and non-store retailing recording their highest year-on-year price growth since March 1992, at 3.2% and 3.3% respectively

Commenting on the ONS Retail Sales Index for August, Rachel Lund, Head of Retail Insight & Analytics at the BRC said: 

"Echoing BRC figures released earlier this month, August’s bout of Autumnal weather put a spring in the step of seasonal purchases as shoppers invested in winter wardrobes and furnishing home interiors.

"The strength of today’s figure will add to the growing expectation of an earlier interest rate rise. However, retail sales figures are notoriously volatile and with a number of factors making reliable seasonal adjustment nigh on impossible, the health of consumer spending should be assessed with caution.

"Pressures on consumers’ budgets remain and with lending at levels seen in the run-up to the last crisis, downside risks still remain. Moreover, a no-deal outcome in trade negotiations with the EU could leave consumers facing price increases of up to 30% on some products, which will do substantial damage to growth in sales volumes."

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