Mild weather lifts plant sales

Garden centre sales for November show a 3.6 per cent rise but Christmas shoppers start slowly.

Garden centre sales were up by 3.6 per cent for November and remain slightly up for the year after mild weather boosted sales of plants and bulbs.

But bird food and furniture and barbecues suffered, while Christmas sales began slowly, according to figures from 27 centres.

Garden Centre Association chief executive Gillie Westwood said: "Pets and aquatics being down could be a cost issue because of the rising price of grain and the mild winter.

"People are holding back from expenditure but still want to go out, as shown by strong catering figures. Seeds and bulbs and plants are up because the weather has been so mild, which has galvanised people to garden when they wouldn't normally."

Squire's managing director Dennis Espley added: "November was up one per cent and year to date we are up one per cent. The garden centre is down a little but catering is up significantly.

"Christmas has been disappointing so far. We think it's a week behind but we're not sure it's going to catch up," he cautioned.

"However, people are going to panic now with the chilly weather. The prospects have been more encouraging this week and next weekend is the big one for Christmas trees."

SALES FIGURES GARDEN CENTRE ASSOCIATION

Category November 2011 Year to date
Houseplants 5.5% U No change
Outdoor plants 17% U 2.5% U
Seeds and bulbs 12.8% U 0.5% U
Sundries 6% U 0.4% U
Furniture and barbecues 20% D 5% D
Pets and aquatics 26% D 13.8% D
Gifts 2.9% U 1% D
Christmas No change 1.6% U
Hard landscaping 3.6% D 4% D
Food hall/farm shop 4.7% U No change
Clothing 4% D 8% U
Catering 12.9% U 5.5% U
Overall 3.6% U 0.5% U


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