2010 has been a "smoking" year for barbecue sales. At the start, encouraging weather forecasts, coupled with the World Cup, had outdoor cooking enthusiasts watering at the mouth.
The UK experienced the driest start to a year for more than a century, according to the Met Office, and the dry weather continued throughout the summer. Sales value of barbecues is up 21.9 per cent for the current year to date.
Barbecue sales have had a difficult couple of years. In 2008, none of the British football teams managed to qualify for the European Championship, impacting the market heavily, with June sales value down 42 per cent on the same month in 2006 during the FIFA World Cup, according to a study by Gfk.
Chairman of the British Barbecue Association Ben Bartlett explains that this is because barbecue "occasions" often happen in conjunction with sporting events. But good weather is also vital and the past two years have had anything but that.
Consumers are still reluctant to spend as the economy recovers, but with the prices of the most basic of barbecues starting as little as £1.79, it's hardly breaking the bank.
So what can we expect for 2011? The chance that the outstanding growth shown in the barbecue market this year will be repeated is not likely. However, it is becoming increasingly popular for consumers to entertain at home, and with the threat of a double-dip recession in the pipeline, this will most likely to continue into next year.
2011 is also the year of the next Rugby World Cup, a competition in which England have traditionally performed well. On one hand, this could possibly extend the season, however, the time difference with New Zealand - and the subsequent "unsocial" timings of live matches - may dampen the impact this tournament will have on BBQ sales.
Either way, watch this space for an update.
The latest GCA figures show that furniture and barbecue sales were up 4 per cent by the end of September 2010 in a survey of its independent garden centre members.
For further information about the gardening/DIY market, contact Neville Prevett, senior account manager at GfK, on 0870 603 8148 or email email@example.com. GfK is a market-leading retail analyst.
Garden centres struggled in September with sales, which dipped by four per cent compared to September last year, according to the GCA.
But some late good weather saw autumn bedding do well. Garden Retail analysis showed core gardening goods held up better than GCA figures suggested, with plants and compost dominating the top 40.
Hot food in the £7-£8 price bracket dominated the catering offer, with garden-centre customers not shy in spending on eating out at centres.
Overall figures in September show a four per cent drop compared to 2010, with year-to-date figures at around one per cent down. Worst hit have been hard landscaping and houseplants. Doing best have been catering, furniture and barbecues, with sundries holding their own.
TOP SELLERS SEPTEMBER 2010
1 Perennial one-litre standard
2 National Garden Gift Voucher (£10)
3 Hanging basket/patio selection 9cm pot
4 National Garden Gift Voucher (£25)
5 Westland multipurpose 75 litres
6 Multipurpose + John Innes Westland (60 litres)
7 Loose wild bird mix
8 Bedding pack
9 Pelargonium zonale - different colours
10 Six-pack bedding
11 Loose peanuts
12 Levington multipurpose (50 litres)
13 Bedding 24-pack special
14 Amalfi armchair with cushion
15 Perennial three-litre standard
16 Box bedding
17 300 Series three burner
18 Farmyard manure (60 litres)
19 Perennial one-litre premium
20 Miracle Gro all-purpose compost (50 litres)
21 Tomorite + seaweed (one-litre)
22 Pick & mix
23 Tub suet balls (35)
24 Fizzy bottles
25 Zonal geranium (upright)
26 Evergreen complete (300sq m)
29 Daffodil bench
30 Phalaenopsis 3 spike
31 Levington Tomorite giant plante
32 Lawn feed, weed & moss killer (500sq m)
33 Pack bedding (d12)
34 Roll of turf 66" x 24"
35 Walk-in plastic greenhouse
36 Mixed climbers
37 Hybrid tea/Moribunda rose (four litres)
38 Impatiens new guinea
39 Landscape bark (100 litres)
40 Mixed hanging basket