Published on 16 - July - 2012
Rainfall shifts GC consumer focus to catering, clothing and gifts during JuneThe more traditional categories for members of the Garden Centre Association were left in the shade last month, according to the latest Barometer of Trade (BoT) figures.
A catering offering is providing many garden centres with a much-needed shot in the arm
The figures, compiled using sales results from more than 200 garden centres within the GCA, revealed catering, gifts and clothes were the month's best sellers.
While GCA chief executive Phil Slinger said the shift was due to the categories becoming "more embedded in the sector," he also admitted the absence of warm, settled weather meant outdoor living sales were down 14.83% for the year to date.
Catering sales were up 15.4% on June last year, and 7.12% up for the first six months of the year. Clothing saw a like-for-like increase of 14.2% for June, and now shows a 4.88% increase year on year. Gifts also saw a rise, up 12.42% compared with June 2011.
Mr Slinger said: "All in all June was a good month, garden centre sales were up 7% as compared to last year, however everyone in the industry was hoping for an even better month to bring the year to date figures up, which currently stand at 6.81% down.
"Unfortunately the absence of warm, settled weather meant that footfall was disappointing during the month. The end of the season has been extended and members have ramped up their promotional activities to try to drive footfall and clear additional stock."
He added that while all members had made "valiant efforts to do everything they can" to boost turnover, "there is no better marketing strategy than the sunshine."
"It must be said that to keep the year on year trading figures to a dingle digit decline is a remarkable achievement, given all the industry has faced this year."
Furniture and barbecue sales now stand at -14.83% for the year to date, and outdoor plant sales are also depressed, at -15.03%.
Mr Slinger added: "Again catering has shone through as the star performer and we expect this to be the case going forward. We are advising members to continue to link with national events and to make the most of every opportunity to do something different as this certainly helps to drive customers through the door."
GCA member Monkton Elm Garden and Pet Centre's general manager said: "We have definitely had to rely on the success of our Four Seasons Restaurant and Pondside Café during the unpredictable weather we've experienced this year. Our catering facilities are extremely popular and we have many regular customers who visit for their lunch every week.
"We find that our calendar of free events helps generate footfall and return customer visits too."
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