Top performers were Christmas and catering, but plants suffered again. Overall, year-to-date sales are four per cent down.
GCA interim chief executive officer Iain Wylie said: "There are positive vibes about." But he added: "Gardening categories are still struggling. I suspect most customers have written off 2012 with a view to getting going again in 2013."
Wylie said smaller and destination centres are faring better than those in the middle, with both categories reporting growth of around eight per cent overall.
Klondyke chief executive officer Bob Hewitt said: "We're comfortable with Christmas sales. Last week, garden centre sales were up five per cent and we were 10 per cent up in coffee shops. He added that he had drawn a line under 2012 and there is "no sign of the recession denting December trade".
Meanwhile, Bents in Cheshire said December 2 was a record day with 9,880 people visiting. It also recorded its best week of sales, taking £679,239 in the week starting 26 November.