Gifts and 'home grown' aid sales

The GCA Barometer of Trade figures show catering, gifts, grow-your-own and birdcare are holding up outdoor living and landscaping sales in garden centres.

The season to the end of July has been flat, said GCA chief executive Gillie Westwood after analysing 150 garden centres' figures.

Gifts are 7.5 per cent up. Westwood added: "They are usually small purchases and impulse buys. People are still treating themselves, especially in a recession. The market looks healthy."

Pets and aquatics sales are still doing well and are up 7.5 per cent this year until the end of July. This includes wild birdcare, which is still a growing market as people become increasingly concerned about the environment. Westwood said: "This area can be a minefield for garden centres but the figures show growth."

Catering is up 10 per cent in a garden retail market that is flat overall this year. Garden care is up by 0.5 per cent to the end of July. Westwood said: "Garden care and garden sundries is still growing as a sector. Products such as slug pellets have done well this year because of the rain.

"Garden care products are the basis of gardening and caring for your garden. I would expect this sector to be resistant to economic pressures."

Furniture and barbecues are down five per cent this year. Westwood said: "That's a lot to do with the appalling weather this summer that we're suffering. The sector has taken a hammering because of the weather throughout the season though the credit crunch may have had an impact too."

Outdoor plant sales are down three per cent this year to the end of July because of the weather but the grow-your-own boom has seen seeds and bulbs up three per cent.

Landscaping is down seven per cent to the end of July. "This is down to the weather but it is also something to do with the credit crunch and big projects being put on hold," Westwood added.

GCA barometer of trade until end July
- Gifts Up 7.5 per cent
- Landscaping Down three per cent
- Outdoor plants Down three per cent
- Seeds and bulbs Up three per cent
- Outdoor living Down five per cent
- Garden care Up 0.5 per cent
- Catering Up 10 per cent
- Pets and aquatics Up 7.5 per cent

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