Garden centres will buck trends despite falling sales, HTA insists

The HTA has reiterated its view that the outlook for garden centres is "positive" despite the GCA reporting falling sales in September.

Sales were down, even in upwardly mobile areas such as catering and grow your own, according to the latest GCA figures.

A GCA snapshot of 42 centres found September catering figures were 2% down on 2007 and outdoor plants, seeds and garden sundries had dropped almost 10%.

But HTA director general David Gwyther and HTA retail committee chairman Caroline Owen have repeated their claim that garden centres do well in times of recession.

Gwyther said gardeners will spend a little more on outdoor leisure as they cut holidays and capital goods:

Despite the current turbulence in the global finance markets, and the probable knock-on effects for individuals and businesses, we remain positive in our outlook for the garden industry.

Gwyther said stalled house sales meant people are more likely to want to invest in their gardens than when prices were rising. It is good news for landscapers, plant and plant-care suppliers.

He believes plant sales are holding up, which no doubt reflects the recognition of plants` contribution to the environment and, in the case of edibles, to healthier living.

Gwyther said high inflation gave an opportunity to raise garden industry product prices and that good service in garden centres was fundamental as the high street cut staff.

Gwyther added: We should be positive, but not extravagant, for the future."

Scotsdales director and HTA retail committee chairman Caroline Owen said:

The news in the last 10 days makes consumers very cautious. I don’t think they haven’t got money but they don’t know whether to spend it or not.

We need some good news from the media because the customers have no confidence. But garden centres do do well in recessionary times.

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