Wet Easter does not dampen demand

Reports from HTA’s regional team suggest garden centre trade in the first three months of the year ended strongly although sales over the Easter weekend proved disappointing.
Warm, sunny weather in March encouraged footfall into garden centres and nurseries which saw good demand for plants, clothing, foods and catering bringing widespread reports of increased sales despite challenging comparatives following a strong performance in March last year.
Wet weather across much of the UK over the Easter weekend, which fell this year in April, kept some customers away however others appeared keen to take advantage of the good planting conditions and opportunities to fill water butts now hosepipe bans are in place across much of the east and south east of England.
The generally positive picture reported by garden retailers for March is reflected in the BRC (British Retail Consortium) data published today (11 April) which show total retail sales up 3.6% and like-for-likes up 1.3%. HTA’s Garden Retail Monitor reported garden centre and nursery sales up 2% for the year to end February and the March data are expected to be significantly up on that when they are available later this month.
“No records were broken over Easter, but garden retail continues to trade well compared with many other sectors” commented HTA marketing director Andrew Maxted. “Plants and gardening products saw a particularly strong March and April last year and HTA members know it is going to be a challenge to match those numbers in 2012. Consumer demand is however clearly there and this month’s National Gardening Week (16-22 April) and the first of the big flowers shows at Cardiff should help sustain media interest ahead of the important May Day Holiday weekend which is now less than for weeks away.”

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