Garden centre sales fell 2.8 per cent in September, but Christmas will be the true test of whether the economy is impacting on stores, according to the Garden Centre Association (GCA).
Chief executive Gillie Westwood said: "We can't blame the weather and I would have hoped for better. The general mood in the country is taking its toll. Gifts are not moving and that was always a growing category, which shows impulse purchases are being hit."
But she added: "If you compare garden centres to the High Street, we're still faring well. Level is the new up. Christmas sales "will be an indicator of the mood of the country", she said.
Falling pets and aquatics category sales, for instance, which is largely made up of wild bird food sales, could be attributed to "customers cutting out luxury purchases", Westwood explained.
British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures for UK retail sales values for September were 0.3 per cent higher on a like-for-like basis from September 2010, when sales had risen by 0.5 per cent. On a total basis, sales were up by 2.5 per cent, against a 2.2 per cent increase in September 2010.
Total BRC non-food sales have gone up by 0.1 per cent over the past three months.
GCA figures showed year-to-date sales were up 0.75 per cent overall on 2010.
September had 108 per cent of the month's average sunshine and 79% of average rainfall in the UK, but in Scotland rain was above average.
GCA sales figures - Data from 49 stores Category September 2011 Year to date Houseplants 6% Down 4% Down Outdoor plants 5.7% Down 3.9% Up Seeds and bulbs 6.6% Down No change Sundries 3% Down No change Furniture and barbecues 1% Down 4% Down Pets and aquatics 14% Down 8% Down Gifts No change No change Christmas 15% Down 16% Up Hard landscaping 5% Down 4% Down Food hall 5% Up 4% Up Clothing 2.5% Up 5% Up Catering No change 5% Up Overall 2.8% Down 0.75% Up