Strong sales suggest retail sector is holding out against multiples

Strong sales over the past two long weekends have lifted industry confidence.

The garden market is holding its own against competition from other retailers, sales figures from garden centres show. New Hopetoun Gardens managing director Dougal Philip said centres are catching up on a two-year slump. He had a record day last Sunday, 30 April, and sales were also 20 per cent up over the bank holiday weekend. Philip said competition from DIY stores and supermarkets was not an issue: “Our experience is the whole thing is purely weather-related. It looks good for May and June but we will be careful what we buy because after the past two years, selling off was painful in autumn. “People have got into gardens and are madly gardening. They need to fill the gaps and catch up on the past two years, when they have not been gardening.” Squire’s Garden Centres managing director Dennis Espley said sales were up 20 per cent for April and eight per cent up on May bank holiday 2005. A Confederation of British Industry distributive trades survey has shown retail sales volumes in April were the best for 14 months. HTA business development manager Tim Briercliffe said supermarkets were still “playing around” with garden retailing and were finding plants a problem to fit into their stores, while DIY stores’ threat to the independent market “had not yet materialised”. He added: “Garden centres are more accessible now. They’re seen as places for both the keen and the fringe gardener.”

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