An increase of 16.96% compared to last year was seen in clothing while sales in food halls/farm shops rose 13.97%.
GCA chief executive Iain Wylie explained: “It’s great to see non-traditional categories such as clothing and food halls/farm shops doing well during July. Joining the two categories in the top spot was houseplants, which saw a rise of 13.93% compared to 2014.
“Sales in outdoor plants were up 9.09%, which is very positive considering the ever changing British weather we had through the month. Catering sales were up 10.38% and gifts up 11.14% so it was a good month for most categories.”
Wirral-based Burleydam Garden Centre director Sally Cornelissen said: “This July has been exceptionally good. We were concerned that the poorer weather compared with 2014 would be a challenge but strong performances from hardy stock, garden sundries and furniture sales coupled with the expected increase in catering turnover has delivered pleasing results.
“There is a definite rise in consumer confidence as illustrated by increased interest in high ticket items. We hope that this confidence will ride out hints of a rise in inflation in the light of the increase in minimum wage in October.”
East Yorkshire’s Coletta & Tyson Nurseries and Garden Centre marketing manager Lauren Cocks added: “We are seeing strong growth within our houseplant department; we have always struggled with strong competition from supermarket prices but it seems the tables are turning and customers are turning to garden centres to add colour and texture to their homes as well as their gardens.
“Catering is so important to our garden centre, people come just to visit our café now and it has meant we are no longer a garden centre with a café. To many we are a catering outlet in our own right. This means we have to keep improving our offering and keep it interesting for new and old customers alike.”