Essential reading for retailers and suppliers in the home improvement market

Hottest July on record sends core gardening lines soaring

Published: 9 September 2019 - Fiona Garcia
GCA member, Coolings Garden Centre reported a good month across all of its sites, with houseplants a particularly strong category, up 35%
GCA member, Coolings Garden Centre reported a good month across all of its sites, with houseplants a particularly strong category, up 35%

Outdoor plants, seeds and bulbs, and garden sundries were amongst the key garden categories that recorded double-digit growth in July, thanks to hot weather over the summer.

According to the Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) Barometer of Trade (BoT )report for the month, seed and bulb sales jumped 51%, outdoor plant sales were up 24% and sales in houseplants saw an uplift of almost 20%.

Sales in garden sundries were also up more than 13%, whilst pets & aquatics and gift sales both grew by almost 8%.

GCA chief executive Iain Wylie said: “It is fantastic to see such a huge rise in sales in traditional categories compared to the same month last year. After we saw so much rain in June, we weren’t holding out much hope of an improvement, but thankfully we were not disappointed as July turned out to be one of the hottest months on record ever, which meant big business for our garden centres as customers flocked to them for everything they needed for their plots.

“Temperatures just kept on rising too, so much so, that we officially experienced a heat wave in the last week of the month, with temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius and above in many places.

“While we have sales in non-traditional categories to fall back on if the weather isn’t so good, it’s always great to see traditional ones doing well. It looks like it may have been a tad too hot to be cooking burgers on the barbecue this time around, however, as sales in furniture and barbecues were down 8%.”

Other categories that performed well in July, included hard landscaping , which was up  12%, and clothing, which rose 22%.

Meanwhile, food hall and farm shops had a relatively good month, with sales up 5%, whilst catering sales rose 12%.

Overall sales for the month were up 11% with a year-to-date increase of almost 7%.

Coolings Garden Centre managing director Gary Carvosso said: “We had a very good month at all our sites. However, at our head office in Knockholt, the real winners were plants. Despite the record heat, the monthly rainfall was average, keeping people planting.

“The intense heat was short lived which resulted in outdoor plants sales 20% up on a hot July in 2018, house plants were even better at 35%. Keeping fresh looking plant stock is a must and across several acres this is a challenge in the heat, thankfully our teams are hugely experienced in plant care.”

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.

The Old Railway Line Garden Centre marketing manager Joe Aldworth said: “The weather helped mask some of the Brexit uncertainty in July, with very strong sales for us. Overall the garden centre was up 15.7% and restaurant up 22.8%.

“People were clearly enjoying their gardens resulting in outdoor plant sales being up a massive 38.7%, sundries up 25.6% and seeds up 30.6%. Our ‘Family Fun Zone’, a variety of events and the good weather was a perfect mix to drive increased footfall throughout the summer. Most other departments also experienced strong sales growth, including houseplants up 44.3%, gifts up 26.1% and homeware up 14%.”




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