Garden centres across the country were affected by the bad weather during the early Easter break (March, 2018) according to the Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) Barometer of Trade (BoT) report.
Compared to the same month last year (2017) sales in outdoor plants were down -46.17%, and sales in seeds and bulbs were down -30.54%.
Iain Wylie, GCA Chief Executive, said: “At this time of year we expect to see customers getting organised for the gardening season ahead, buying up new plants and their seeds and bulbs ready for planting, but this wasn’t the case as the wet weather meant that many couldn’t get out onto their plots.
“The Easter break is a hugely important time in a garden centre’s calendar, but it was pretty much a wash out this year, however categories such as food hall and farm shops showed more resilience to the poor weather with increases in sales, proving that weather-proofing our businesses is vital for survival during tricky trading times.
“While the majority of the country suffered, centres in the North Thames and South Thames regions were the worst hit during the month compared to the same time last year. Centres in the North East saw the lowest year to date change. However, there was a glimmer of hope for centres in the Wales & West region as they were the least affected by the wet weather, seeing sales for the month rise compared to last year and they even saw a year to date increase too.”
While some categories, such as clothing, underperformed during the month, compared to last year, they’re still seeing a year to date increase.
Iain added: “The last time our centres had such a poor start to the year was back in 2013, but this was followed by improved conditions, so we all have our fingers crossed now for a sustained period of good weather to help pick things up again.”
Houseplant sales out performed all categories at 4.18% up compared to 2017 with a year to date increase of 11.52%.
Simon Bourne, Garden Centre Manager at Perrywood Garden Centre in Colchester, said: “March was pretty awful due to the cold and wet weather. Sales were 31% down in the garden centre, propped up by clothing, giftware, food, greetings cards, wild bird care, houseplants and pets, which were all up on March 2017. Anything outdoor related saw a huge fall; furniture and barbecues were both down as well as pots, compost, seeds and of course outdoor plants.
“The Coffee Shop saw excellent sales despite the weather, staying in touch with last year, just 3% down. We are of course used to these seasonal fluctuations and remain optimistic about trade for the rest of the spring season. The sun is coming out this week and we are parking staff off-site at weekends to make the most of sales!”
The GCA BoT reports are compiled using actual sales figures and provide an up-to-date trading position statement. They are made available mid-month following the end of the prior month after all member garden centres have submitted their results.
James Ducker, Director of Langlands Garden Centre, said: “The wet and snowy weather during March really affected sales in our traditional gardening categories across all three of our centres in York, Sheffield and Leeds, as people were just not able to get on with their planting for the season.
“As we pride ourselves on being destination garden centres, we have weather-proofed our business for times like this by offering catering outlets, farm shops and gift sections and these all performed well during the month.”
The BoT reports allow members to compare their trading positions with other centres.
The GCA represents nearly 200 garden centres nationwide.
For further information, please call 01244 952170. Alternatively, please visit www.gca.org.uk, log on to www.facebook.com/pages/GardenCentreAssociation or follow the organisation on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GC_Association.