March retail sales flat with garden centres down 3.2 per cent

March sales were 0.7 per cent down on March 2015 but overall year to date sales are three per cent up, according to the British Retail Consortium/KPMG.

Barclaycard figures showed consumer spending slowed 1.6 per cent in the year to March, the lowest level for two years. This is less than half the 3.3 pper cent growth in the year to February.

Spending on women's clothes was down 1.2 per cent and garden centre spending was down 3.5 per cent, those two being the biggest casualties of bad weather that included Storm Kate.

Travel spending dropped 0.8 per cent as people stayed at home out of the rain.

Barclaycard also found just one in three people are confident about the UK economy.

But spending on pubs and restaurants increased by 11.9 per cent, helped by Easter and Mother's Day. This is borne out by garden centre catering hitting half of sales in some centres in March.

DIY sales are up 1.2 per cent this year, found Barclaycard

Garden Centre Association chief executive Iain Wylie said March was unlikely to be a positive month when member figures are compiled, though April has begin much stronger.

Barclaycard managing director Paul Lockstone said: "The continuing impact of global economic headwinds and an uncertain outlook really caught up with consumer spending in March."

BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said: "Neither growth nor decline in total year-on-year sales in March, although this relatively disappointing picture is distorted by the earlier timing of Easter this year. Food in particular was affected by this timing effect, with sales over the last three-months falling 0.7 per cent; the largest decrease since June. The fashion category also found the going tough, with both clothing and footwear sales showing their largest decline since September 2014, despite increased promotional activity. However, it was a bit of a mixed picture across the industry as a whole with big ticket items continuing to do well and furniture being the main contributor of total sales growth.

"Looking at the long-term picture, the rolling 12-month average growth slowed to 1.4 per cent, its lowest since August 2015. This slowdown can’t be viewed in isolation; retail is an industry undergoing significant structural change as the investment in the digital offer continues apace while, from a consumer perspective, more disposable income is being spent on leisure and entertainment."

KPMG retail head David McCorquodale said: "Despite the clock move bringing extra hours of daylight, there was no ‘spring forward’ for retail sales during March with growth broadly flat overall. Earlier Easters are not always good for the fashion industry as consumers are put off purchases of lighter fashions and footwear in cooler temperatures and this was certainly the case this year. However, furniture and home accessories benefited from consumers taking on home improvement projects over the long weekend while the ‘Mother’s day effect’ boosted sales of jewellery and watches.

"The grocery sector’s drive for everyday low pricing and waste reduction contributed to the decline in food and drink sales, pulling the three-month average total sales into the negative.

"Looking ahead, retailers will be hoping for fewer April showers this month to entice spending on these newly launched ranges and to help alleviate the additional cost burden with the implementation of the National Living Wage."

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Regional showcase - GroSouth

Regional showcase - GroSouth

A wide range of exhibitors and speakers will feature at GroSouth to update visitors on all the latest industry topics, writes Matthew Appleby.

Pots and containers

Pots and containers

Superior propagation products can justify extra expenditure by providing precise cell fill, optimum root development and healthy plugs, writes Sally Drury.

Business Planning - Inflationary pressures

Business Planning - Inflationary pressures

How can horticulture businesses respond to Brexit-fuelled inflation? Neville Stein outlines the options.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Garden retail Top 100 GARDEN CENTRES

Our exclusive ranking of garden centre performance by annual turnover. NEW: 2016 listing just published

Garden Centre Prices

GARDEN CENTRE PRICES w/e 21 September 2016
GARDEN CENTRE PRICES w/e 24 August 2016

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here