Garden centres saw green shoots of recovery in 2021 says GCA

The Garden Centre Association (GCA) says garden centres were rallying and recovering from the pandemic in 2021 according to its overall Barometer of Trade (BoT) figures for the year released this month (February 2022).

Excluding catering, retail growth stands at 30.47% up during 2021 compared to 2020 and up 29.77% compared to 2019.

Iain Wylie, Chief Executive of the GCA, said: “The growth in retail sales during 2021 demonstrates the increased popularity in gardening during the past two years and shows that the industry is flourishing after a very troublesome time for us all. These figures are very positive and show how important gardening has become to the nation. It also demonstrates the ongoing trends for good mental health and wellbeing, growing our own food and the planet-friendly aspects of plants.

“However, we expect now that the world is opening up more, that there will be more competition for time and money with consumers potentially switching spending to holidays and other activities aside from gardening, as well as dealing with increased utility bills and inflation. Our members’ job is now to nurture those who became green-fingered during the pandemic and continue to educate them and promote all of the different benefits that come with gardening.”

Due to the pandemic, sales in 2020 were down -4.34% compared to 2019 overall, however, with catering excluded, as this was one of the worst affected departments, they were up 6.21%.

In 2021, overall sales were up 31.41% compared to 2020 and up 18.84% compared to 2019.

Houseplant sales in 2021 were up 29.40% when looking at 2020 figures and up 50.19% on 2019.

Outdoor plant sales in 2021 were up 38.90% on the previous year and 29.26% up on 2019.

Sales in seeds and bulbs were up 17.22% in 2021 compared to 2020 and 23.54% up on 2019.

Iain adds: “Furniture and barbecue sales in 2021 were up 60.95% on the previous year and up 71.24% on 2019. This is due to people’s newfound appreciation for their outdoor spaces over the past couple of years.

“This is also reflected in hard landscaping sales, which were up 24.67% in 2021 compared to the previous year and up 59.05% on 2019.”

Sales in garden sundries for 2021 were up 24.58% on 2020 and up 34.94% on 2019. Pets and aquatics departments also enjoyed positive sales in 2021, as they were up 22.34% when likened to the year before and up 16.95% on 2019.

Gift sales saw an increase of 30.51% in 2021 compared to 2020 and were also up 18.26% on 2019 figures.

Iain continued: “While catering sales were obviously affected by the pandemic, food hall and farm shops within garden centres were often classed as essential shops and were allowed to remain open, which is why we still saw positive sales in 2020. In 2021, sales were up 24.85% on 2020 and up 40.01% on 2019.

“Many clothing concessions were closed in 2020, which therefore affected sales greatly, and there was also a trend for people not to invest in new clothing, as they were not going out as much. In 2021, sales were up 38.38% on 2020, but were still down -1.13% on the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.”

The GCA BoT reports are compiled using actual sales figures and provide an up-to-date trading position statement.

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.

For further information, please call 01244 952170. Alternatively, please visit, log on to or follow the organisation on Twitter at