Now to build on this good news

For the first time in several years, it all came together for the garden industry this Easter, with wonderful weather across most of the UK and strong pent-up demand from gardeners with plants to replace, as well as the urge to make every second of good weather count after an interminable winter. And there is more to come thanks to the royal wedding.

Squires is reporting sales 80 per cent up on this time last year. Meanwhile, Farplants' Nick Richards tells us he has been sending out 1,900 trolleys a day - 800 up on its previous best. So there is much to celebrate after such a great start to the garden industry season.

Now we must ensure that this year's fantastic results, which stand in stark contrast to years such as 2008, when snow wiped out sales across the industry, send a strong message to the Government both about how critical Easter trading is to the sector - but also how unpredictable its outcome can be. And how the Government can help.

Under its Red Tape Challenge, the Government is consulting on Sunday trading legislation, which in its current form unfairly prevents garden centres from trading on Easter Sunday because of the space they need to display plants - while Tesco Express and Sainsbury's Local can trade if they want to.

The industry has until 5 May to tell Government why Easter sales are so critical to the trade and why an exception should be made for the sector. Go now to the Retail Challenge section of the Red Tape Challenge website (www.redtapechallenge.cabinetoffice.gov.uk) and click on Sunday Trading.

Kate Lowe, Editor, kate.lowe@haymarket.com


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