Following a report by Which? that analysed 2,000 items and found a garden shed to be 155% more expensive year on year, due to a number of reasons including shipping, lack of available raw materials and the impact of COVID on production, Robin Mercer, Managing Director of Hillmount, said: “Hillmount has taken a substantial hit this year on the cost of garden furniture and smaller items being delivered to the garden centre from China.
“The main problem we’ve found is due to China stopping production for three months during lockdown last year as having a knock on effect on orders being delivered. Containers of furniture which we ordered in August 2020 with a delivery date of April or May are now only starting to arrive at the garden centre. We had one arrive last week and we are expecting another two within the next week or so. Then there’s the added headache of trying to find drivers to deliver our orders from the port to the garden centre.
“Manufacturing delays are a major problem but we have had to take the added issue of shipping costs on the chin as well. These costs have also risen astronomically with containers which would usually have cost $2,000 now being priced as high as $22,000.
“Demand too has been an issue as everyone in the world seemed to want a set of garden furniture and a barbecue all of a sudden when travelling wasn’t an option last year and although we are delighted that we have had more customers than we would normally have had in a typical summer, as more people have chosen to holiday at home this year as well, sadly the factors outside our control have, in some instances, not permitted us to be able to get customers their furniture and barbecues on time.
“We have held our prices for 2021 and absorbed the additional costs in relation to transportation, Brexit certification and manufacturing but from 1 October we will not able to sustain this and we will have to consider our pricing for 2022, as the current additional costs can be 1p for small items but for large items like garden furniture it is just mind blowing.
“We hope with the opening last week of Hillmount Cheshire that some of the burden of transportation and expediting customer orders on time etc will ease for us as a family business operating between GB and Belfast.”
Hillmount is an 80 year old, fourth generation, family business with garden lifestyle stores in Ards, Bangor, Belfast and Cheshire.