Drip irrigation and water butts sales up - but hosepipes too

Water butt and drip irrigation manufacturers have seen sales rise by up to four times in the lead-up to the hosepipe bans in South and East England.

Leeds-based Straight plc, which makes the market-leading Harcostar brand, is selling up to 10,000 water butts a week, a four-fold increase on last year.

Retail director Jonathan Adler said:

"With the ban coming in on Thursday, sales have been enormous. We’ve seen a three or four fold increase since the hosepipe ban was announced [on 12 March]. That means we’re 300-400 per cent up. It’s gone ballistic."

He added: "We’re one of the few companies to have our own facilities and we’re keeping up nicely with demand. We’ve focussed all our production on water butts and water items to have certainty of meeting demand."

He said biggest demand was from the Anglian Water area, followed by South East Water, then Southern and Thames.

Adler added: "Demand from garden centres is enormous. We’ve had massive orders coming through when garden centres have been thinking about what happened in the drought of 2006 and how demand went mad and supply was difficult. The chains are making very big orders."

Adler said Straight stacks 30 butts on a pallet so they don’t take up as much space as some retailers think.

He said he expects demand to peak over Easter and the following week.

Hozelock strategy director Simon McArdle said EPOS and order sales of hosepipes had not fallen, even in areas where the ban was to come in. He added that hosepipe sales were 60 per cent up last week, which he expected because of the good weather and the start of the season, and that drip irrigation sales were 120 per cent up.

He said drip irrigation sales were doubling week on week and that garden centres were backing the systems, which are exempt from the ban, with "heavy promotions".

McArdle added: "For drip watering sales to be double watering sales implies a big change in consumer habits."

He said the company had changed some production lines from making hosepipes to making drip irrigation and that there were no supply problems.

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