HTA issues half year report

HTA Consumer garden Design Trends latest figures show garden centre sales were up four per cent calendar year to date in comparison with the same time (Jan-June) in 2015 but were down in April.

The HTA said: "A prolonged rainy season discouraged customers from focusing on gardens. Non-traditional sales like lifestyle and catering were up during this time, showing that customers were making the journey to stores but not buying plants. The uncertainty of Brexit has lowered immediate consumer confidence and their expectations of the economic climate in the next 12 months (GFK). Many are expecting a rise in prices which could influence their willingness to spend on DIY and gardening; however, the long-term implications of the vote are uncertain and will be tracked.

"Quarter two (April-June) had a slow start due to a prolonged rainy season. Customers still made the journey to the garden centre, as many stores reported a rise in catering, but those businesses without a restaurant/café took a hit on their plant sales. There was an opportunity to recover lost sales in the next month as warmer weather around the May bank holiday encouraged consumers to get out in their gardens. Outdoor living, bedding plants, and garden care categories were up year on year."

April was down 13 per cent, May up 17 per cent and June flat.

The HTA tracks how garden retailers feel about their business prospects in the coming 12 months, where a score of seven is very positive and one is very negative.

The HTA said: "Such confidence can indicate willingness by retailers to spend on promotions, recruitment, and other investments in the business. Q2 garden retailer confidence reflects pre-referendum confidence levels (April 2016). Confidence is in line with previous years but is slightly lower than in 2015; this could be due to the anticipation of the referendum vote but is likely to be because of a slow start to the gardening season due to colder and wetter weather."

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