If you were one of the millions who stocked up on garden furniture for all that outdoor hosting earlier in the year, you may have paid significantly more than you would have done in 2020. New Which? research has found that six major retailers hiked the prices of garden furniture in 2021.
An exclusive Which? investigation has found that some garden furniture has more than doubled in price, with retailers charging as much as 155% more for the same item this year than in the past.
We compared prices across garden furniture products from six popular DIY, furniture and garden stores between July 2019 and July 2021. We found increases across all the retailers, with Wickes' garden furniture costing 13% more on average this year than in 2020.
This means people who bought new benches, chairs, tables and even sheds to accommodate loved ones during this year's coronavirus restrictions could have paid a premium for the privilege.
Here, we take a closer look at how and why the costs of garden furniture have changed so dramatically.
We've been hearing from consumers seeing furniture increasing in price, being out of stock, or taking far longer than expected to arrive since the first lockdown in March 2020.
Now, analysis of more than 2,000 garden furniture items shows that, at least when it comes to price hikes, these customers were not alone.
One of the highest price rises we found in our investigation was on the Forest Garden Lyon Arbour from Screwfix and Toolstation. In July 2020 it was priced at £179.99 at Toolstation, but by the end of the period it cost £261.98.
The arbour was almost always more expensive at Screwfix. Priced at £219.99 for most of the period, it saw incremental price rises and ended up at £341.99 by July. The line graph below charts its price journey over the past two years.
If you were looking for a new table and chairs to spruce up your garden, the Denia Wooden 6-Seater Dining Set might have caught your eye. Available from B&Q, the set was priced at £247 in July 2019, but by July 2021 it cost £369 - a 49% increase.
But it was sheds that saw the biggest price increases across the period in terms of pounds and pence. The Shire 12x24ft Mammoth Loglap Timber Shed in blue began the period at £2,799.99 at Screwfix, before ending up at £5,395.99 two years later. That's a £2,596 increase.
The same shed was also available from B&Q for most of the period. There, its price increased by roughly £1,000 - from £3,622 to £4,600 - in April 2021.
Homebase also saw a shed nearly doubling in price. A Mercia shed/greenhouse combi was £695 in 2019, but £1,210 two years later.
Screwfix raised the price of a Forest Garden Overlap Pressure Treated Shed by a huge 155% over the period. It started at £319.99 in July 2019, but by July 2021 it was priced at £814.99.
The same shed went from £318 to £413 over the same period at Wickes. You would have paid between £339 and £375 for it at Homebase, but it wasn't available after April this year.
We also found:
Meanwhile, if you were on the lookout for a relaxing place to recline, the pricing of the Vivere Double Cotton Hammock on Amazon was anything but laid-back.
The cost from Amazon Marketplace seller Vivre Europe BV swung back and forth over 20 times during the period, dipping as low as £189.99 in February 2020 and ending up at its highest price, £336.50, at the start of July 2021.
Amazon also sold this product directly itself, with its price ranging between £90.99 some weeks and £140 on others.
Every retailer we looked at raised garden furniture prices between the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021.
Wickes saw the largest average increase, with outdoor goods costing 13% more this year than they did in 2020. Screwfix and Toolstation also saw rises of over 10% across their garden products. The other retailers we checked were Homebase (8%), B&Q (7%) and Amazon (2%).
You can see the average percentage price changes across all garden furniture items from six key retailers in the table below. To work this out, we used the average prices of products stores had in stock for more than 80% of the period (July 2019 - July 2021).
|Retailer||Price change July 2019-June 2020||Price change July 2020-June 2021 (highest to lowest)|
As you can see, the past 12 months' unique circumstances, from Brexit and Covid to the blockage of the Suez Canal, have led to a much larger spike than the equivalent period between 2019 and 2020.
We asked all of the retailers in our investigation why there have been such stark price rises over the course of the pandemic, particularly this year.
B&Q and Homebase both mentioned that increased shipping costs were a contributing factor. This tallies with our reporting from April, when we found that the industry was for outdoor furniture shortages.
The Leisure and Outdoor Furniture Association (LOFA) said at the time that prices for shipping containers had swelled from £870-£1,100 to £5,100-£12,300 due to a shortage.
A lack of raw materials was also a sticking point for several retailers, with Toolstation raising the 'well-publicised timber shortage due to unprecedented demand from the US'. This in turn has 'pushed up the price of raw timber, and as a result, the price of garden furniture which is predominantly made from timber', it told us.
Wickes pointed to 'availability constraints and inflationary pressures', B&Q mentioned supply chain price inflation and Homebase referenced a shortage of supplies. All three retailers said they were working with suppliers to minimise price increases.
Amazon pointed out that some of its prices are set by third-party retailers, and that it has policies to help them price products competitively. It said its own prices fluctuate regularly for many reasons including stock levels and competitors changing their own prices.