March yet to take off and February garden centre sales lag behind general trend on the high street

HTA president Caroline Owen says March is still 10% below where she would like it to be, despite garden centre sales picking up after poor weather hit January and February sales in garden retail.

Garden centre sales still slow. Image: Stagecraft
Garden centre sales still slow. Image: Stagecraft

Garden centres were around 4.5% down in January/February according to GCA figures but Owen says "we didn't do as badly I feared we would" at the start of the year.

Owen said February was down on a poor February 2009 but she hoped March 2010 would match March 2009 if sales continue to pick up.

She said garden centre sales trends were going against British Retail Council High Street figures showing retail spending is up 4.5%, so this must be purely the weather and "clearly not the economy".

BRC figures showed UK retail sales values rose 2.2% on a like-for-like basis from February 2009, when sales had dropped 1.8%, hit by snow and consumer caution. On a total basis, sales rose 4.5% against only 0.1% growth in February 2009.

A BRC representative said: "There are lots of uncertainties out there including the economy and the political climate, with tax rises and spending cuts possible after the election. But consumer spending is still better than 12 months ago when we were in the depths of the recession. If people have money to spend on discretionary goods such as gardening they are more likely to spend it than 12 months ago."

Owen added: "Hopefully we will see March sales match up with last March but we are 10% off being a good March though we are up on March 2008. We're not seeing people out in their gardens yet."



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