The ban on Easter Sunday opening has cost garden retailers £45m this year, the HTA has claimed.
Easter sales rose by up to five per cent on 2005 to around £120m (see p5) — but it could have been 40 per cent more if the Government relaxed opening hours. The DTI has asked the HTA to submit its views on the issue to the department’s consultation on Sunday trading.
HTA commercial services director Andrew Maxted called for a change in the law to enable all garden centres to open without restrictions on Sundays.
The plea follows positive Easter trading results at garden centres.
The DTI report on the Sunday Trading Act 1994 will be published in May. Large (over 280sq m) garden centres in England and Wales are limited to six hours’ trading on Sundays — unlike in Scotland, where there are no restrictions.
Centres are not allowed to open at all on Easter Sunday — potentially the busiest day of the year.
Maxted added: “Large garden centres want a level playing field with other retailers and other businesses in the leisure sector.”
The HTA believes the law is causing confusion and frustration for gardeners and garden centre operators. The association told the DTI:
* Consumers do not understand why they can enjoy other leisure attractions for a full day on
Sunday but are restricted in their access to garden centres.
* Half the annual retail sales are made between Easter and June. Gardeners have particular difficulty understanding why they are unable to visit garden centres on Easter Sunday when the Easter weekend is widely considered the start of the gardening year.
* Before the 1994 legislation for garden centres, Sunday was the busiest day of the week and remains so for many garden centres in Scotland.
Have you registered with us yet?
Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins
Sign up now