Clothing and food hall/farm shop were the only categories to see stronger sales as compared to March 2012.
Peter Burks, Chairman of the GCA, explained: “The Met Office reported that March was the second coldest on record so this was bound to have implications on people’s buying habits.
“Footfall was down during the month as people were reluctant to head out into the cold and even when they were visiting our members they were staying inside the garden centres.
“Clothing was up 3.15% for the month as compared to March 2012 and food hall/farm shop up 10.22%, which is a great result.
“Unfortunately outdoor areas sales were poor. Outdoor plant sales were down 58%, seeds and bulbs down 42.56%, furniture and barbeques down 48.08% and hard landscaping down 44.52%.”
Overall sales during the month were down 31.99%.
Peter added: “Although the figures aren’t great we weren’t surprised by them. The weather was so cold we knew people were unlikely to be spending a great deal of time on gardening projects and it does mean that when the weather picks up our members are likely to see a surge in visitors.
“With a warmer start to April and reports that the second half of the month will see temperatures return to average, we are feeling quietly optimistic about the rest of the season.
“There is nothing we can do about the weather but the fact that people were still visiting our members and spending money at garden centres’ indoor departments when the weather was so dire is a great thing.”
The GCA BoT reports are compiled using actual sales figures and provide an up-to-date trading position statement.
The BoT reports produced by the GCA allow member garden centres to compare their trading positions with other centres.