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Garden centres had a sparkling Christmas

Published: 17 January 2014
Sales in garden centres were up in November and December last year, with festive decorations and gifts the most popular departments.
The Garden Centre Association's Barometer of Trade (BoT) figures revealed that Christmas sales were up by 12.5% in November and 5.9% in December compared to 2012. Sales of gifts in November were up 8.1% on 2012 and 5.5% in December. Outdoor plants also performed well in December, with a 16.1% change.

Peter Burks, chairman of the GCA, commented: "It's encouraging to see more people preparing for Christmas by visiting garden centres in their areas instead of high streets to pick up essentials."

Overall, sales at GCA garden centres in 2013 were up 3.3%. The best performing categories for the year were food hall/farm shop, which was up 8.05%. Furniture and BBQs saw an increase of 6.4% due to improved weather and in July, sales were up an impressive 72.7%. Seeds and bulbs enjoyed huge growth in the first few months of 2013 and hard landscaping was the best performing category in March, April and May.

The Planters Tamworth garden centre manager, Stuart Gooden, told DIY Week: "Christmas was good for us; sales grew by 8 or 9% which we were quite happy with. You've got to look at the product mix and our core decorations sold through fantastically well. But lights sold very well; lighting in general - it's a higher value sale for a set of lights but outdoor lighting in particular has been doing extremely well."

But following a very successful Christmas in 2012, Mr Gooden said the last two weeks just prior to Christmas didn't match to 2012. "On the year we've put on 9.5% growth and had good core gardening sales - extremely good plant sales and bedding sales. Once March was out the way, we had a fantastic May/June period."

Christmas lights also sold well at the Old Railway Line Garden Centre, but artificial and real trees were a bit slow, general manager Huw Lewis explained. Following a big extension at the centre in 2012, he added: "The restaurant's been by far the most popular addition and that's gone from strength to strength. But it's been our best year on outdoor leisure/furniture, the best year for four or five years, thanks to sun to be honest."

Matthew Bent, chief executive of Bents Garden & Home, agreed, and said after an awful spring the weather and sales at the centre got better and better. "Food and catering has been particularly strong this year - we forecasted flat growth over Christmas but we've had some good growth." He also said Christmas 2013 was the company's best ever: "Not just in the Christmas category but throughout the store."

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