Garden centres beat the market this Christmas latest figures confirm

Garden retail outlets beat the market at Christmas, with British Retail Consortium figures showing UK retail sales values up just 0.3 per cent on a like-for-like basis from December 2011.

On a total basis, high street sales were up 1.5 per cent, against a 4.1 per cent rise in December 2011. By contrast Garden Centre Association figures show garden retailers were up 8.45 per cent in December.

Garden Centre Group regional manager Peter Burks said: "Sales were very good and have carried on well afterwards. We did well across the board." He said the 129-centre group had moved into January sales but had not bought in sale items as it has done in the past.

Buckingham Nurseries general manager Mike Easom said: "Christmas was booming. We sold out of our stock of 400 Christmas trees."  Alton Garden Centre director Andy Bunker said December sales had clawed back some of the deficeit from earlier in the year.

Speaking on the fortunes of high street retailers, BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "Against the relentlessly tough economic backdrop and low expectations, these results are not a cause for celebration, but not a disaster either. Total growth for December hasn’t beaten inflation and is only on a par with December 2010, when severe weather put sales volumes on ice for much of the month.

Online was the stand-out performer, showing its highest rate of growth this year. Shoppers are increasingly taking advantage of the convenience that online shopping offers at every stage of the customer journey, from comparing prices to reserving and collecting in-store.

KPMG retail head David McCorquodale said: "A flat end to a flat year is perhaps the best way to describe the Christmas trading for 2012. Despite mild, albeit wet, weather for the whole of the last quarter and an extra full weekend immediately prior to Christmas, the final quarter saw total sales rise only 1.5 per cent on the previous year and like-for-likes rise by only 0.2 per cent - both rises lower than inflation.

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