Published on 16 - August - 2012
Catering continues to bolster garden centre salesThe GCA's Barometer of Trade for July reveals that garden centres are still relying on their catering operations to boost overall sales, as other categories struggle.
The Barometer of Trade results, which are compiled using sales figures from GCA members, showed catering sales were up 9% last month compared with July 2011.
GCA chairman Peter Burks, Chairman said: "We have seen a definite theme this year with catering consistently being one of the top performing categories at our member garden centres each month. The year-to-date figures for catering now stand at 7.5% up - it is the best performer so far this year."
He added: "Catering is something our members do very well and despite consistently good figures they are still looking at ways to increase sales opportunities, as well as persuading restaurant customers to spend in other areas of their businesses."
One such example is The Old Railway Line Garden Centre in Powys, which held events throughout 2012 to offer customers something a bit different and simultaneously encourage them into the centre's restaurant.
Shop Manager of the garden centre Katie Cleary explained: "We have hosted a range of free events this year to encourage more people to visit the garden centre and something we find very successful is to put special dishes on our restaurant's menu to link with the event we are holding. Not only does this drive people to our restaurant, it also encourages them to go and have a look at what the event is all about, providing us with an opportunity to secure other sales."
She added that the catering side of the business has outperformed a number of other categories. "Our restaurant has done very well this year, and although other areas of the business have found it harder to meet sales targets we are still expanding in size, with building work taking place this year."
Other results in the Barometer of Trade revealed that clothing sales in garden centres in July were up 15%, with gifts up 5%. Furniture and barbecues were down 12% - an unsurprising figure given the wet weather over the summer season - while outdoor plants were down 12% and seeds and bulb sales dropped 12%.
Mr Burks said of the findings: "Due to the unpredictable weather this year, outdoor furniture and barbecue sales have suffered, with the year-to-date figure standing at 14% down. This has left many garden centres with surplus stock."
As a result, the GCA is encouraging members to do something positive with any leftover stock and donate it to the charity, Greenfingers' Turn Old into Gold initiative.
Retailers can donate anything garden-related, including barbecues, chainsaws, compost, greenhouses, hand tools, garden power tools, patio furniture, plants, timber and water features, and Greenfingers will arrange for Solus Garden & Leisure Limited to pick up stock free of charge.
The items will then be auctioned off by W&H Peacock Auctioneers and Valuers in Bedford with the money going towards supporting Greenfingers' work creating gardens at Chrildrens' hospices.
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