Furniture and barbecues top GCA’s BoT for sixth month running

Outdoor living items continued to come out top in the Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) Barometer of Trade (BoT) for November (2021) – beating Christmas for poll position (December 2021).

It revealed furniture and barbecues were up 59.97%, boosted by the ongoing trend for alfresco entertainment, which has become an all-year-round event.

GCA Chief Executive, Iain Wylie explains: “Although during the cooler winter months it may seem unusual for us Brits to purchase outdoor living items, garden centres have seen customers keen to purchase ahead; gearing up for summer 2022 and also so they can continue socialising outdoors, as the weather allows, throughout the winter months too.

“There’s been a real buzz in 2021 around entertaining outdoors and a welcoming garden has become vital, not just as a fashion accessory but also to enhance wellbeing. Making spaces look festive, bright and inviting is also crucial at this time of year and many are creating a cosy space to recharge in.

“The understandable caution around Covid-19 this winter, with the increased opportunity for transmission via Omicron, has also meant there’s been a prolonged preference for spending time outdoors too.”

Again, the report revealed good sales in November overall with a year-to-date increase across all 13 categories.

Iain continues: “Christmas sales were pipped to the post by barbecues and furniture; however, sales were still up 1.08% year-to-date. Many member garden centres hosted late-night shopping evenings and other seasonal events throughout the month too.

“The figure for outdoor plants has also stayed consistent with sales up 36.88% year-to-date. Winter planting for 2022 and seasonal plants offer much-needed pops of colour, perfect for when people are entertaining outdoors and have lit up their gardens with twinkling Christmas lights.

“Inside homes, a welcome dose of Vitamin G as a splash of colour, or even as a gift, was also evident in November, as houseplants sales were up at 32.44%. Seeds and bulbs have also risen slightly, up 15.5%.”

Catering saw a large increase with the year-to-date figure up 27.67%, although this still needs to be tempered with last year’s events where various lockdowns, firebreaks and tiers were put into effect across the UK.

The remaining categories that performed well, year-to-date, in November were clothing sales up 39.73%, gifts up 32.08%, food hall/farm shop up 27.01%, hard landscaping up 22.84%, garden sundries up 23.8%, as well as pets and aquatics up 21.53%.

Overall sales in November were up for the month by 29.34% when comparing 2020 with 2021.

The GCA BoT reports are compiled using actual sales figures and provide an up-to-date trading position statement. They are made available mid-month following the end of the prior month after all member garden centres have submitted their results.

The BoT reports allow members to compare their trading positions with other centres.

The GCA represents nearly 200 garden centres nationwide.

Through sharing information and its inspection programme the GCA helps members to achieve high standards in customer service, plant quality and reliability.

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