By Matthew Appleby
Garden centre sales have crashed by up to 42 per cent this summer, with the industry blaming unrelenting poor weather for the downturn.
The HTA Garden Industry Monitor figures for June saw sales fall more than 40 per cent compared with June 2006. This means that after a storming March and April retail sales are now six per cent below 2006, which was a mediocre year.
And GCA Barometer of Trade figures for July show a 10 per cent drop in sales, with the Midlands and the North particularly badly hit.Both organisations say August sales look as bad as those earlier in the summer.
HTA business development director Tim Briercliffe said: “Rainfall figures tell the story. Northern England had 184mm of rain against 27mm in June 2006. Rain days up were up by 10 on average. It was a grim month. The only reason why overall figures are not too bad is because we had such a good March and April. June was a very bad month and July was no better weather-wise. I would guess sales would be along similar lines to June. It’s coming out similar to last year overall, which was not a great year.”
Briercliffe did offer comfort for some growers, saying: “If you’re a nursery stock grower it’s better because March and April are the single most important months. But bedding plant growers prefer a better May and June.”
GCA representative Gillie Westwood said figures were down at a small sample of 63 surveyed centres “because of the weather”, with garden furniture hardest hit, down 40 per cent for July and two per cent for the year. “But year-to-date sales are up by seven per cent — though there are reports of warehouses full of unsold furniture.”
Tesco, which won the fight for Dobbies last week, said the market still had potential after the Scotland-based 21-centre chain’s latest profit warning said it will make £1m less than it predicted, at £5.2m — down from £5.5m in 2006.
Dobbies chief executive James Barnes said: “Tesco understands the season we’ve had. It is a retailer itself and is still very supportive. It hasn’t acquired Dobbies because of our six-month trading record.
Tesco representative Jon Church added: “We believe Dobbies is in great shape. The weather is a short-term problem.”
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