Outdoor goods shortage possible

Hot weather generates early demand for outdoor living products.

Outdoor-living products could be in short supply this summer after a sales boom during the hot spring. Garden Industry Manufactuers’ Association (GIMA) director Neil Gow said: “As an industry we’ve been running leaner and leaner. This is the year shortages could happen if it carries on like this.” Oxfordshire Garden Furniture retail manager Clive Coules said spring sales were already 30 per cent up on 2006 after two years of “struggle”. He added: “The difficulty is getting stock out quick enough. We’re talking to our manufacturers at the moment about stepping up production. The trouble is we can’t get garden centres to commit to taking orders — they prefer top-ups.” Garden centres have cut orders after seeing a 13 per cent per cent drop to £2bn in all manufactured sales in 2006. Meanwhile, plant sales rose four per cent to £1.8bn in 2006, according to the HTA. HTA PR manager Erica Harper said plant supplies were holding up. She added: “There have been plants flying off the shelves so much that I’d be surprised if there are not shortages.” She said the HTA’s fear was that imported Dutch plants would fill the shortfall. Notcutts representative Jo Davey said there were no shortages yet, “but I can see it coming”. Bransford Garden Plants sales director Adrian Marskell said garden centres that had not reserved enough stock “were being caught with their pants down”. He added: “They’re asking what we have got — they’re desperate for stock.’”

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