Garden centre sales slip in week to 9 February following widespread heavy rains

Garden centre sales for the week ending 9 February were 15 per cent down compared to the same week in 2013, after heavy rains hit much of the country.

Figures supplied to Horticulture Week show aquatic sales were level, books were down 15 per cent, clothing was down 40 per cent, craft was down five per cent, food was down four per cent, and furniture was down two per cent.

Sundries was down 20 per cent, gifts was down three per cent, houseplants was down two per cent, outdoor plants down 40 per cent, pets was down 10 per cent and catering was down seven per cent.

Meanwhile, garden centre sales for January were 14.72 per cent up on the same month in 2013 according to the Garden Centre Association. In January 2013 snow hit sales badly, and while this year saw heavy rain, garden centres still fared better.

Outdoor plants were 40 per cent up, catering was 15 per cent up, seeds and bulbs was 13 per cent up and gifts was 20 per cent up.

According to British Retail Consortium (BRC)-KPMG figures, UK retail sales were up 3.9 per cent in January 2014 on a like-for-like basis from January 2013, when they had increased 1.9 per cent on the preceding year.

On a total basis, sales were up 5.4 per cent, against a 3.0 per cent increase in January 2013, the strongest growth since March 2010.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "Our figures for January show strong growth but a story of two halves.  With a record number of people now in work and the continued recovery in the housing market we have seen very strong performances in furniture and other non-food items. 

"These figures are better than expected given the continued squeeze on personal finances but official figures show that this is not built on personal debt which remains below pre-recession levels.

"Customers responded enthusiastically to a range of sales and promotions on non-food items this January. Retailers succeeded in tempting shoppers in with promotions, they also saw strong demand across new ranges, helped by improvements in consumer confidence. This was not the case in food which in contrast saw very low levels of growth in the last quarter.

"January’s figures set 2014 off to a good start; however comparisons are against soft non-food sales in January 2013, which will not be the case in February. Given the underlying conditions, it remains to be seen how the trend for the rest of the year will pan out."

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