Christmas sales up in garden centres with more to come - but gardening tails off

Garden centre sales were up five per cent in the week ending 18 November thanks to strong Christmas and restaurant sales - but core gardening was down again.

Restaurant trade made up around 20 per cent of sales, Christmas 25 per cent and food around eight per cent. Outdoor plants was around three per cent and sundries eight per cent.

Aquatics was up 20 per cent, the books category down two per cent, Christmas up five per cent, clothing was level, craft was down two per cent, food was up three per cent, sundries was down 20 per cent, gifts up two per cent, houseplants up 12 per cent, outdoor plants down nine per cent, pets up five per cent and catering was up 18 per cent.

Garden Centre Association chairman Peter Burks said: "Sales-wise things have been not too bad but not anything special. Christmas is on a Tuesday this year so it menas an extra weekend and that means Christmas sales have been delayed but apart from that everything is fairly ok. The season will definitely be a little bit later this year though."

Garden Centre Group regional manager Burks' 129-centre chain had a double points weekend last weekend giving out mince pies and mulled wine to customers, which came a week after many other chains including Squires had customer special weekends.

Santa arrives at its centres next weekend and then Christmas trees in the week after that, which will mean centres go "full-on to Christmas", said Burks.

Garden centre planner and Greenhouse Garden Centre owner Malcolm Scott said there was a sea change this year as gardening was hit so hard by wet weather: "What's killed this year has been the wet ground. Normally you can sell plants in the autumn and winter. Garden centres will have to get to grips with alternative products and get planning to allow them to sell them."

The Markit Household Finance Index has found households’ financial squeeze has continued to moderate in November.

Key points for November:

  • Households report slowest deterioration in their finances for almost two years
  • Lowest pressure on savings since May 2010
  • Squeeze on cash availability continues to weaken
  • Inflation perceptions ease from October’s 13-month high
  • Growth of demand for unsecured credit remains lower than at any time since March 2011

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