Bumper Easter sales help garden centres turn around tough month

Easter holiday sees the start of the busy season as customers flood in to stores to stock up for summer

Garden centre sales picked up over Easter after an appalling March — and despite last Sunday’s ban on trading. Managing director Peter Burks, of Somerset-based Sanders Garden World, said: “We had a record Easter. We had a good week leading up to it and it turned into a bumper weekend — if only we could have opened on Sunday. We’ve always seen Bank Holiday Mondays as our busiest times, but in simple calculations I think we could take one per cent of our annual turnover on the Sunday if we could open.” Shops of more than 280sq m may not open on Easter Sunday. Owner Nigel Dawes, of Teddington Station Garden Centre in Twickenham, told local press he was going to flout the laws — but it was a marketing trick. He said: “We are just under the size limit and we manipulated the local press to our advantage on that.” He added: “Compared to last month and the bad weather experienced, we had a fantastic weekend and an amazing day’s trade on Sunday. We were the only garden centre for miles around to be open so the trade made its way to us.” A GCA representative said: “From what I’ve heard, March was poor because of the weather.” She added that members were down by an average of nine per cent on March 2003 because of five consecutive weekends of bad weather. ADAS reports nursery sales were down by up to 50 per cent in March, with few repeat orders and large stocks building up at retail outlets. ADAS warned unless sales pick up, businesses may experience cash- flow problems. Wyevale Nurseries sales director Doug Reade said March hardy nursery stock sales were “disappointing to say the least”, but he expects orders to revive this week after better Easter weather.

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