Garden Centre Association figures show poor March sales were down overall 32 per cent on 2012

The Garden Centre Association's (GCA) Barometer of Trade results for March have revealed that clothing and food hall/farm shop were the only categories to see stronger sales as compared to March 2012.

GCA chairman Peter Burks said sales had struggled: "The Met Office reported that March was the second coldest on record so this was bound to have implications on people’s buying habits.

"Footfall was down during the month as people were reluctant to head out into the cold and even when they were visiting our members they were staying inside the garden centres.

"Clothing was up 3.15 per cent for the month as compared to March 2012 and food hall/farm shop up 10.22 per cent, which is a great result.

"Unfortunately outdoor areas sales were poor. Outdoor plant sales were down 58 per cent, seeds and bulbs down 42.56 per cent, furniture and barbeques down 48.08 per cent and hard landscaping down 44.52 per cent."

Overall sales during the month were down 31.99 per cent.

He added: "Although the figures aren’t great we weren’t surprised by them. The weather was so cold we knew people were unlikely to be spending a great deal of time on gardening projects and it does mean that when the weather picks up our members are likely to see a surge in visitors.

"With a warmer start to April and reports that the second half of the month will see temperatures return to average, we are feeling quietly optimistic about the rest of the season.

"There is nothing we can do about the weather but the fact that people were still visiting our members and spending money at garden centres’ indoor departments when the weather was so dire is a great thing."

Katie Cleary, shop manager at The Old Railway Line Garden Centre, which is in Powys, said: "Our outdoor area sales suffered during March with outdoor plants down 63 per cent, seeds and bulbs down 49 per cent and furniture and barbecues down 34.6 per cent in comparison to the same month last year."

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