Catering, Christmas and gifts led November garden centre sales as plants continued to be hit by the weather

November sales in garden centres were again supported by gifts, cafe and Christmas, with plants once more seeing big falls.

Latest figures for garden centre sales in November show catering, Christmas and gifts were around 15 per cent up, but plants and core gardening were down by up to 23 per cent.

Initial Garden Centre Association figures for showed Christmas sales were 14 per cent up for the month and 11 per cent overall for 2012 so far, while gifts were 18 per cent up for the month and 17 per cent overall.

Sales figures from Scotdales garden centre in Cambridge showed gifts were up five per cent and the cafe was up 15 per cent. But outdoor plants were down 23 per cent and garden care was down 17 per cent.

MD Caroline Owen said: "I believe the weather and the wet is the problem. Everyone says they're not doing anything in the garden. At scotsdale the non-gardening section doesn't compensate for the gardening section but that's not true for all garden centres. because our garden section is so important to us."

But Owen warned that the end of the month sales had struggled "with payday looming. Maybe we need to be more savvy about our offers and target them in the first weeks of the month or make them extra special at the emd of the month."

HW figures for the last week of November (to 2 December) show clothing was down seven per cent, craft down 10 per cent, sundries down five per cent, gifts down nine per cent, houseplants up one per cent, food down four per cent, outdoor plants down 12 per cent, pets up one per cent and restaurant up four per cent. Overall sales were down three per cent.

Views from regional GCA meetings found Wales and West "dark and moody" because of the storms, Midalnds finding trade "up and down" and South Thames being "very reliant of coffee shops".

Meanwhile, high street spending remained flat in November. BDO’s November High Street Sales Tracker show like-for-like sales dipped slightly by 0.2 per cent year-on-year.

Footfall was hit by the foul weather in late November, with strong winds and torrential rain keeping people off the roads and out of city centres.

BDO retail head Don Williams said: "The figures don’t look great and they could have been even worse were it not for the half-term boost in the first week of the month.

"But people will not cancel Christmas. They are just following the trend of the Christmas period getting later every year thanks to extended opening hours and better online shopping services, and the atrocious weather has just given them another reason to delay their festive shopping. There is every indication this Christmas will be better than last year.

"Not everyone will get it right though and although the homewares sector has finally seen some growth, we continue to believe that there is a high risk that we will see further failures in the first weeks of 2013 once the festive sales period is over."

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