Sales up, but fall at garden centres

MARTA STEEMAN
Last updated 05:00 25/03/2014

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Retail spending surged 3.5 per cent in Canterbury in the last three months of 2013 but those in the DIY and garden supplies trade say the good news was short lived.

The Christchurch Retail Index, released yesterday, showed growth of 3.5 per cent in retail and hospitality spending in the last quarter of 2013 while the rest of the country rose a more modest 1.2 per cent.

All sorts of retail spending is included in the index such as car sales, food and beverage and core store-retailing.

But it was hardware, building supplies and garden supplies sales which made their mark and drove the growth in the last quarter in Christchurch, Statistics New Zealand said.

The 3.5 per cent was the biggest jump since June 2011, just after the February 22 quake.

However, Parkhouse Garden Supplies owner Noel Dick said sales had "crashed big time" since January after enjoying a good three months in late 2013.

The first three months of the New Year had been "absolutely chronic" and other landscape garden suppliers would say the same thing, Dick said. He reckoned one or two businesses would not survive.

The only answer to the downturn he could think of was that residents had been worn down by the Earthquake Commission or other insurers and could not be bothered with gardening and landscaping.

He reckons he is probably down 40 per cent compared with pre-earthquake times.

"It hasn't got anywhere near pre-earthquake. Anyone that says it has, they are lying"

He sells a big range of bark, composts, shingles and products for gardens apart from plants.

Dick said some builders were doing their own landscaping and some pretty shoddy work. They were putting in thin coverings of bark, a handful of plants and a thin cover of soil over bricks and concrete and ready lawn on top of that.

Garden and plant business Oderings said sales were "way up on the year before" in October and November last year but December had been about the same.

Director Darryl Odering described sales in the first three months in the New Year as "patchy". January had been better than the year before, February had been down and March was much the same.

"It's just starting basically for us, so hopefully over the next few years it it will get stronger," Odering said.

Their business had dropped after the earthquakes and was now getting back to where it was before.

Mitre 10 Bishopdale assistant manager Keith Nielson said sales at the store in the last quarter 2013 were up about 10 per cent on the year before but that had dropped back in the New Year to about 5 per cent. Poor weather cut spending on gardens and DIY. But "we are pretty happy with the way things are going at the moment" he said.

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