Sales catching up with last year and gaining on 2011, say centres

Garden centre business picks up towards the end of May after 'extremely tough' start to the year.

Some garden centres are reporting having caught up with 2012 sales figures and that they are now gaining on 2011.

Sidmouth Garden Centre owner Ian Barlow said: "We rely on the weather and at the start of the season it was atrocious. But it has picked up and been average to good, so we had an average to good rest of the season and we are now ahead of last year."

He added: "We've nearly caught up on 2011 and it shows that in 2012, although there was an element of recession hitting the industry, it was mainly climate-led.

"We are content. Plants and furniture have improved on last year, though that wasn't hard. It has all come back."

Glendoick Garden Centre owner Ken Cox said May has been "pretty good" after no one bought plants in March. "It's the wholesale nurseries I feel for," he added.

Caulders owner Colin Barrie said business in 2013 has been extremely tough. He added: "May picked up towards the end but there was a lot of ground to make up. It was level with 2012."

New Hopetoun Gardens owner Dougal Philip said: "We're trying to forget March and April. May has been good but we're only just approaching budget. We're so relieved it came good but we're not going to get March or April's shortfall back.

"With most fairer-weather gardeners we're only going to get one decent visit out of them. They didn't come last year. They never sat in their gardens so weren't ashamed about what they looked like."

Aylett director Adam Wigglesworth added: "We were 10 per cent up in May but down for the year. Good bank holidays have been tempered by trade still not being up for the year, but we're not going to get it back."

Garden & Leisure operations director Carol Paris said the group was 17 per cent under budget by the end of May, but it was 16 per cent up in May and 2.4 per cent down year to date "on the worst year we've had". The firm set budgets against 2011, ignoring 2012, but five June weekends and no jubilee will help late-season sales, she added.

Squire's managing director Dennis Espley said: "Trading has improved but it's still been a dreadful couple of years."

Highfield Garden World owner Tim Greenway said: "Plant sales were hit this spring but May has been good compared with 2012. We're 16 per cent up in May on 2012."

British Retail Consortium director-general Helen Dickinson said: "Customers are price-conscious but responding well to good deals, especially for big-ticket items."

KPMG retail head David McCorquodale added: "Consumers remain highly sensitive about prices and the retailers are increasingly using promotional activity to drive footfall or the equivalent online."

May sales Garden centres report upturn

The Garden Centre Association has reported that 59 of its 61 members were up in May 2013 against May 2012. Sundries did best at 20 per cent up, with outdoor plants 17.7 per cent up.

But sundries were down five per cent for the year to the end of May and plants were down 7.5 per cent. Catering, the next biggest category, was up 16 per cent for May and 6.4 per cent year to date. Fourth-biggest sector furniture and barbecues was up 7.3 per cent for May but down 9.3 per cent year to date.

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