Garden centres report rising sales over Christmas period

Garden centre performance has begun strongly this December, with sales up to 39 per cent up.

Garden Centre Association figures for November showed 10.7 per cent rises for Christmas goods and an eight per cent overall rise.

Chief executive Gillie Westwood said: "December is going to be good - everyone I speak to says it's fantastic so far. Christmas is a barometer for garden centres. Last year they were up and they are well up this year too. Any rise is good in a recession."

Scotsdales Garden Centre managing director Caroline Owen said Christmas decoration sales were up 39 per cent and National Garden Gift Vouchers (NGGVs) were up 23 per cent this December.

She added: "It's all good at Scotsdales. Lights are going very well. Christmas trees are great even at an enhanced price (of £49.99 for a 6ft Nordmann)."

She added: "People have saved money and people who are in work have reduced mortgages through lower interest rates and are prepared to spend on Christmas."

Garden & Leisure operations director Carol Paris said: "Our Christmas has been excellent." She reported that sales were up by 19.4 per cent in November, making the month a record.

"I was really quite nervous about Christmas because we commit orders in March," added Paris. "But we took the decision to invest in stock and bought additional from last year, whereas I know many centres were either deliberately cautious or had problems with credit insurance.

"Many people are still planning to stay at home, have been very careful with their spending and intend to have a very good Christmas with their families."

Squires managing director Dennis Espley said Christmas trees were selling well: "Christmas sales have been good, particularly last week, which is 20 per cent up.

"We are determined to have our lowest stock of Christmas goods at the end of December to have a fresh start next year."

HTA marketing director Andrew Maxted said: "My perception is that garden centres are seeing fruitful gains with customers in buying mode. We're comfortably ahead with NGGVs on 2008 in December and had a record day on 14 December, with £790,000 sales compared to £610,000 on the best day last year."

The Klondyke group of 24 garden centres reported that total like-for-like sales were up six per cent since 1 October.

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