Reader Panel - How did your sales shape up over the holiday season?

We asked garden retailers and experts whether the milder weather conditions over the Christmas period had resulted in better sales than in 2010.

Managing director

"We were 10 per cent up on our previous best year. I think it was because we had our best Christmas displays ever and had great stock, well-merchandised, in a good, diverse range.

"The mild, favourable weather helped and we also processed transactions faster thanks to a new credit card system that busted queues. But it is a bit of a mystery why we did so well.

"All departments were up apart from live trees. Price has a lot to do with that."

David Little, managing director, Poplars

Managing director

"We were 17 per cent up in the six weeks up to Christmas. We have had an outstanding period with sales significantly ahead of the two prior years. We have got the mix of products and pricing spot on and our customers responded well.

"Full-year results have bucked the retailing trend with considerable growth in revenues and stable gross margins despite the VAT increase at the beginning of the year."

Nicholas Marshall, managing director, Garden Centre Group

Chief executive

"December redeemed the year - the month had to be better than 2010 because the weather was on our side. December was definitely a good month.

"Poinsettia sales helped to boost houseplant sales by 19 per cent after a long period of decline, though wild-bird care sales were down, which could be because of the economy as well as the milder weather."

Gillie Westwood, chief executive, garden centre Association

Manager

"Trade was very good. It was good on Christmas and the mild weather kept plant sales going well.

"Christmas trees were pretty good. We were within one or two per cent of being sold out and quite a few of our stores were completely sold out."

Peter Burks, Sanders Garden World manager and Garden Centre Group regional manager


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