Festive frenzy at UK garden centres

It has been an exceptionally busy week for the nation’s garden retail industry as customers flock to their local garden centres to stock up on seasonal plants, Christmas trees and gifts and to enjoy festive activities such as visiting Santa and ice skating.
GTN Bestsellers data shows last week as the busiest of the year for garden centres with sales figures up 2% on last year. This is echoed by garden retailers from across the country.
Boyd Douglas-Davies from the Hillview Group comments, “Our Hilltop Garden Centre in Oxfordshire is over 35% up in December and our Studley Garden Centre in Warwickshire is up 22%. At both centres we have increased the size of the Christmas departments and the range of gift products. Hilltop has a real ice rink which is open until 6 January.”
Bob Hewitt from Klondyke Garden Centres said, “Our garden centre sales increased 4% last week over the previous year with our restaurant sales up 10%.”
Bents Garden Centre in Cheshire have reported a record number of visitors (9,880) on December 2 and also had their best ever sales week at the end of November.
Matthew Bent, Managing Director at Bents Garden & Home: “Summer was literally a wash out so it’s great to be able to report such fantastic figures for the Christmas period. It seems as though people are eager to forget about the poor summer months and the glum outlook and are just keen to focus on now and enjoying Christmas as much as possible.”
Martin Stewart from Stewarts Gardenlands in Dorset said, “Amazing trading – it shows how vital it has been to build up to Christmas, catering and gift sales. The past 8 weeks have saved the year.”
Simon Edwards from Golden Acres Garden Centres, who have five sites across the south of England, comments, “Our Christmas sales have been up significantly across all our sites and Christmas tree sales have been strong. I put this down to our product ranging and Christmas merchandising which is consistent and matches our market whilst avoiding clashing with competitors either in the industry or outside. I think that the punters are fed up of austerity and are treating themselves to a bit of fun.”
Martin Davies from Raglan Garden Centre, Monmouthshire, comments, “Sales of decorations are up 15%, lights and artificial trees up 3% and live tree also up 3%. Houseplants are a real winner for us at this time of year as we give them a better position and as a result sales are up 46%. Our breakfast with Santa events sold out early this year.”
Andrew Maxted, HTA Director of Marketing and Communications said, “Despite challenging times it seems that consumers are still willing to enjoy the Christmas period and this is mirrored by the recent sales figures that we see in UK garden centres. It has been a tough year for the industry and so this busy festive period provides some welcome relief.”
 
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