The Garden Centre Association (GCA) Barometer of Trade (BoT) shows catering sales were up by 7.35 per cent, Christmas sales up by 7.11 per cent and gift purchases up by 6.49 per cent in October as compared to October 2012.
GCA chairman Peter Burks said: "Although the figures are not stunning they are going in the right direction during what has been a tough year for all of us in retail.
"Catering is still performing well and anyone who doesn’t have a professional café or restaurant ought to be thinking about investing in one.
"Our customers may still need to feel more confident about the economy to spend more in other areas of the garden centre but they are definitely happy to eat out and to meet friends and family for a tea or coffee and cake in our restaurants.
"Christmas seems to have come early at our member garden centres too, which is very positive. We’re heartened to see the hard work of members, who have spent weeks creating wonderful, cheerful displays and special Christmas events, pay off this month."
The overall year to date figure for catering in October was up by 5.54 per cent, meanwhile Christmas was up 4.74 per cent and gifts up 2.55 per cent.
But farm shops and food halls at garden centres are the best performers overall for the year to date, showing an increase in sales of 8.67 per cent.
Burks added: "This is a very interesting figure, which may illustrate that people are wishing to source their grocery items locally and are not buying everything from supermarkets these days."
The GCA BoT reports are compiled using actual sales figures and provide an up-to-date trading position statement.