Grim weather keeps customers at home centres' tills quiet

Garden centre operators report a poor bank holiday weekend thanks to poor weather.

Dismal weekend weather contributed to a poor bank holiday, with garden centre operators reporting disappointing sales. Proprietors said footfall was as unsettled as the weather over the weekend, but several noted that TV coverage of the Chelsea flower show had stimulated customer interest in new plants. Managing director Peter Burks of Sanders GardenWorld in Somerset said the weekend was “not very good at all”, with bad weather and a major traffic jam on the nearby M5 on Saturday leading to a 30 per cent drop in sales compared with last year. He said: “Sunday was cold and blustery. Monday was a better day but sales were still down by about 10 per cent on last year.” Managing director Steve Myatt of Warbreck Garden Centre in Cheshire said the bank holiday weekend was “disappointing because of the weather and nothing else”. It rained on all three days of the holiday, Myatt said. “The demand is there, but the poor weather has meant we have not had the lift we hoped for.” Manager Jim Cockerton of Dean’s Garden Centre in Scarborough said weekend sales were “marginally down”. He added: “The weather has been terrible. When the sun was shining, there were lots of customers, but it wasn’t the busiest bank holiday. It didn’t have that buzz.” Cockerton said Chelsea coverage had a positive impact, with many customers seeking plants that had appeared on TV. Planteria manager Martin Cowell of Cowell’s Garden Centre in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne said that despite interest in plants featured at Chelsea, weekend sales were down about £3,000. Poor weather, including a hailstorm on Monday, had a negative impact. People shopped while the sun was out, but “when the heavens opened, they vanished”, he added. “We didn’t have enough umbrellas in the store to sell.” HTA PR manager Erica Harper said sales were “generally disappointing”. She added that “many companies are really not going to be in a good position” if sales do not start to pick up.

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