Christmas sales flat but tree sales strong, say retailers

Christmas sales may have been flat but Christmas tree sales in garden centres hit record levels last month, retailers report.

Homebase had the best Christmas for 15 years on Scottish pot-grown trees and poinsettias.

Wyevale Garden Centres managing director Nicholas Marshall said the company sold out of trees but was five per cent down on Christmas 2007, partly because decoration sales fell.

British Christmas Tree Growers' Association secretary Roger Hay said: "Everybody I've been in contact with has seen increased sales. And income has increased as prices have gone up by up to 10 per cent."

Tenterden Garden Centre owner Edward Boult said Christmas was three per cent up with almost all 350 trees ordered sold.

Klondyke and Garden & Leisure Group were both one per cent down on 2007. GCA chief executive Gillie Westwood said Christmas product sales were four per cent down in December after 38 centres returned their results (see box).

Overall, December was four per cent down and the whole year 1.5 per cent down on 2007. Centres with over £4m turnover were four per cent down and those with under £4m turnover were flat.

FIGURES: DECEMBER 2008

(First figure is December 2008, the second, end of year 2008)

Gifts - 3.6% down 5% up
Furniture/barbecues -18% up 8% down
Houseplants - 9.5% down 5% down
Outdoor plants - 8% down 5% down
Seeds and bulbs -19.5% up 1.6% down
Garden sundries - 7% down 1.9% down
Pets/aquatics - 7.83% down 3.3% up
Christmas - 4% down 3% down
Catering - 4% up 5% up
Overall - 4% down 1.5% down

Source: GCA (results from 38 centres).


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