Garden centres across the country reported a boost to trading last month and record results, thanks to the good weather and two Bank Holidays - with core gardening categories seeing double-digit growth on last year.
After what garden retailers described as “a rollercoaster April”, May was a far more promising month, with sales of outdoor plants up 28%, furniture and barbecue sales up just over 31%, and seeds and bulbs sales up 26.37% on the same month last year. The figures are the latest from the Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) Barometer of Trade (BoT) report.
Squire’s Garden Centres managing director Martin Breddy said the business enjoyed a record May – echoing the sentiments of other garden businesses, including Wyevale Nurseries. Squire’s Mr Breddy explained: “We enjoyed a record May and our highest-ever sales month, in both our garden centres and our total business. The Bank Holidays were especially strong due to the excellent weather and our promotional plans.”
GCA chief executive Iain Wylie, GCA Chief Executive, said: “Garden centre owners and suppliers had their fingers well and truly crossed towards the end of April for some good weather and it certainly paid off, as May approached and we were treated to some of the hottest temperatures during the month for a century, as well as two Bank Holiday breaks, which allowed people to get back out into their gardens.
“The superb sales are definitely our reward for a disappointing start to the year. We just hope the good weather will continue into June as many gardeners will now be playing catch-up.”
Other categories also saw a boost, with houseplants sales rising 17% on last May, garden sundries up 18%, and hard landscaping up 14%. Pets and aquatics sales were down slightly at -1.47% but sales in non-traditional categories, such as gifts were up just over 1%, food hall and farm shop up 8% and clothing up around 17%.
Mr Wylie added: “Overall sales for the month were up 19.01% and, while the year-to-date change is down -2.66%, it is still considerably better than the figure we saw in April.”
The GCA BoT reports are compiled using sales figures from GCA members 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.
The GCA represents nearly 200 garden centres nationwide and the BoT reports allow members to compare their trading positions with other centres.
The Gardens Group managing director Mike Burks said: “It has felt like a good old-fashioned spring, with an accentuated peak in May, and our garden centres have certainly felt the benefit catching up on what was lost earlier in the season.
“All departments were busy throughout the whole month, as well as the two Bank Holidays, with the hardy and bedding plants departments leading the way. Good weather certainly inspires people to get outside and encourages those less experienced to get into the garden, which is great news for us.
“Of course we are usually at full stretch in May anyway, so this peak put huge pressure on our systems, staff and suppliers, but everyone came together and pulled out the stops, which is a testament to the people we work with. We have an ethos of building long term internal and external relationships throughout the business and the support shown by our suppliers really demonstrated the importance of this, which is very much appreciated. June has started very positively compared to a very poor start in June 2017.”