Retailers report successful Christmas despite general downturn in late 2008

Garden retailers have said those that had level Christmas sales compared with 2007 have done well.

In a mixed picture for retailers, Brigg, Woodthorpe Hall and Arcadia centre owner Charles Stubbs said: "We're just about level and you've got to be happy with that. A year ago I wouldn't be, but as things are you have got to be fairly happy."

Early indications from 18 GCA centres show Christmas sales in garden centres are down by up to six per cent on 2007 and two per cent down overall on the year.

But many centres have reported strong sales. New Hopetoun Gardens general manager Lesley Watson said November and December had been the centre's best ever because of good customer service, different products and inspirational demonstrations. Real-tree sales held up despite price rises.

Longacres' Chris Scott said it was the "busiest Christmas ever", with trees and National Garden Gift Vouchers selling well.

Shoots co-owner Piers Mummery reported an "average Christmas", while Burcot co-owner Neil Gow said: "We had a very good December because of good retailing, good products and being positive."

Ben Reid Garden Centre's Simon Fraser said: "Christmas was slow to begin, but ended up five per cent up on last year overall. (We had) strong sales of Christmas trees, gifts, tools and houseplants."

Langlands Nurseries' Ian Ducker said: "We had an excellent Christmas - 10 per cent up overall - with grow-your-own in particular performing well." However, he added that plant sales were poor.

Sales of real Christmas trees were slightly down at Burleydam Garden Centre, but artificial tree sales were up. Director Sally Cornelissen said: "The last two weeks ended slightly ahead of last year. The restaurant was very strong, up on month and year. Gift sales, pets and aquatics were good, while plant sales were level."

Webbs chief executive Boyd Douglas-Davies said he was "happy overall" with the level of trade, adding: "Real-tree sales were particularly strong, decorations level, and houseplants slightly slower."

Bay Tree Nurseries' Barry Phillips said: "Sales in December were down 16 per cent across the whole garden centre compared to December 2007 - but Christmas 2008 was our best ever."


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