Garden centre sales from the HTA Garden Retail Monitor show trade is currently down by 8% (to the end of February) with January 2013 down 15% on January 2012 and February down 1%. It must be remembered that January 2012 was 10% up on January 2011, so in comparison with 2011 January sales were down 5%. Whilst March figures are not yet available the continued wintry weather is likely to have had a huge impact, given that March 2012 was particularly strong.
Levels of consumer confidence have seen a small rise although they still remain well below expected levels. This suggests that whilst customers are still feeling the pinch they are perhaps more accepting of it – the so called ‘new normal’ realistic approach.
Garden retailers are reporting that there is a level of pent up demand from customers who are frustrated that the weather is not yet allowing them to get out into the gardens and start planting.
HTA Director General, Carol Paris, comments, “It is a waiting game at the moment with garden centres looking good and ready for business. It remains to be seen how spring will play out and whether it will be the beginning of a much needed recovery in consumer garden spending. However, it is clear that the longer it takes for the weather to improve the smaller the window of opportunity for garden retailers to attract consumers to spend.”