Retail analysts confirm strong garden centre sales are leading the way

Overall consumer spend in April was up 3.7 per cent, with particularly strong growth in online DIY (44 per cent) and online garden centres (40 per cent), Barclaycard has reported.

Garden centre uplift
Garden centre uplift

Spending in DIY stores was up 11.9 per cent, whereas garden centre spending grew 20.2 per cent.

Barclaycard said: "Britain's booming housing market, helped by the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, has led to record levels of spending on DIY and in garden centres over the past two years.

DIY outlets saw annual spending grow 14 per cent in the first quarter of this year and garden centres enjoying growth of 22 per cent over the same period."

However, data strongly suggests that consumers remain cautious and continue to search for value in every shopping trip they make, pushing down average transaction values by five per cent in the year to April.

Meanwhile the latest footfall figures from Ipsos Retail Performance confirm the UK retail market benefitted from stronger demand in April.

Ipsos' Retail Traffic Index (RTI), which is derived from the number of individual shoppers entering over 4,000 non-food retail stores across the UK, rose by 8.4 per cent in April on March and 1.8 per cent year-on-year on April 2013.

The biggest rise was felt across South West England and Wales.

Ipsos Retail Performance director Dr Tim Denison said: "To our surprise, footfall over the Easter fortnight fell back by 1.6 per cent on the equivalent period last year. The DIY and Garden Centre sector, however, saw very strong results, benefiting from a late Easter and good weather."

"The double digit growth (13.2 per cent) on the 2013 fortnight will have certainly put a spring in the step of these retailers, helped also by the strengthening housing market, giving assurance that home improvements are a worthwhile investment once again."

Finally the British Retail Consortium and KPMG have reported that UK retail sales were up 4.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis from April 2013, when they had decreased 2.2 per cent on the preceding year.

On a total basis, sales were up 5.7 per cent, against a 0.6 per cent fall in April 2013. Growth was positively distorted by the timing of Easter.

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: "Retail sales growth for the twelve months to April showed a healthy increase of 2.8 per cent compared to the twelve months to April 2013. There are now clear signs that the retail economy is expanding as retailers offer great new products and competitive prices to consumers who are still watching their spending very closely.

"As anticipated, the Easter break introduced a positive distortion into the April 2014 comparable figures (as the holiday fell in March in 2013) and so April sales were up by 5.7 per cent. However what we can say for certain, is that customers responded well to great deals and good ranges in children’s clothes, DIY products and furniture, although volumes of food sales did not rise significantly.

"As the Online Retail Sales Monitor shows, customers took advantage of the holidays to visit and buy their products in stores, which is a useful reminder that people still very much enjoy the great experience of shopping in store as well as online."

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