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GCA: Mild Weather Helped Customers Enjoy Alfresco Entertaining In October

GCA only Garden centre in autumn

THE UK’s current love affair with alfresco entertaining shows no sign of diminishing the Garden Centre Association’s (GCA) October Barometer of Trade (BoT) report has revealed (2021). 

Prolonged mild weather kept sales of outdoor furniture and barbecues up 57.98%, topping the BoT figures for the fifth month running. 

GCA Chief Executive, Iain Wylie explains: “The UK’s current love affair for alfresco entertaining shows no sign of slowing, although this was certainly helped by unusually warm temperatures in October. However, even with the cooler weather we’re now experiencing, gardeners don’t seem to be deterred, according to anecdotal evidence we’re hearing from members to date. A frosty night outdoors can be just as much fun with rugs on knees, twinkling lights and firepits glowing. 

“Garden centres have witnessed customers eager to bag the perfect furniture and supplies to keep enjoying the great outdoors. It’s not just whole dining sets either, many are also snapping up furniture that can be used all around their gardens, such as benches that provide a perfect resting spot in smaller spaces, or an alternative place to recharge and just enjoy a cuppa, or even to take off their wellies before going inside! The trend for spending more time outdoors appreciating the fresh air, whether gardening or entertaining, looks set to stay, which is great news for the industry.” 

But it wasn’t just furniture and barbecues that recorded good sales in October. The report shows a year-to-date increase in 12 out of 13 BoT categories. 

Iain continues: “Outdoor plants retained a good position with sales up 39.7% year-to-date. Again, the milder weather was the ideal catalyst to allow people to keep up their hobby, do some autumn planting and prepare for next year while the soil remained warm. 

“Similarly, houseplants were also up at 35.07%. Once again proud plant parents are adding to their broods.” 

Catering has also slightly increased with the year-to-date figure up 4.45% although this still needs to be tempered against last year’s events. 

The remaining categories that performed well, year-to-date, in October were gift sales up 32.56%, clothing up 32.06%, food hall/farm shop up 30.05%, hard landscaping up 29.18%, garden sundries up 24.94%, pets and aquatics up 21.5%, as well as seeds and bulbs up 12.1%. 

Iain adds: “Christmas sales were up slightly compared to October 2020, possibly due to the unseasonably mild weather extending the gardening season and people remaining outdoors working in their gardens for longer. It showed an increase of +2.7%. However, when compared to October 2019, the figure is 42% higher.” 

Overall sales in October were up for the month by 9.56% when comparing 2020 with 2021. 

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 or

Source : Garden Centre Association

Image : Garden centre in autumn

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14 December 2021

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Thank you for the excellent presentation that you gave at Woodbury Park on Thursday morning. It was very interesting and thought-provoking for our Retail members. The feedback has been excellent.

Martin Elliott. Chief Executive - Home Hardware.

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