March outdoor sales struggle but April picking up in garden centres

Lower March sales in garden centres reflect mixed weather in the month than in 2014, but Garden Centre Association chief executive Iain Wylie says April returns are improving.

The year to date is flat against 2014, which had a strong March after a poor January and February.

March 2015 was 5-7 per cent down on March 2014. Outdoor plants and garden sundries did worst at 10-15 per cent down, while catering was 12-15 per cent up.

Wylie said: "People are coming in and having a coffee and something to eat but are saying it’s a bit cold to buy plants.  Footfall is still there.  I expect they will be out in force for the rest of April."

GCA chairman Will Armitage said his Birchencliffe centre was 10 per cent up year to date and Pennine was seven per cent up. He said they were reaping the benefits of plantarea improvements.

He added that Easter Monday was 20 per cent plus up.

For the latest retail market comment see next Friday's Horticulture Week magazine.

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