Record Easter sales cheer garden industry

Sales at some garden centre outlets shoot up by as much as 80 per cent on 2010 over the Easter bank holiday weekend.

Garden retailers set records across the board last weekend - despite not being able to open on Easter Sunday and talk of plant shortages.

Garden Centre Group (GCG) chief executive Nicholas Marshall called the Easter weekend "the biggest gardening weekend that the country has ever seen". He added: "We've smashed all records. It was a fantastic Easter."

He said business was 40 per cent up overall for Easter, compared with GCG's best, and Easter Monday was the best day GCG had yet had by 30 per cent. Some 46 per cent of centres broke best daily sales figure records.

Marshall added that there was more to come with "everyone going royal wedding mad". He said: "Our plant sales have been fantastic, both hardy nursery stock and bedding, which has just taken off. We have no stock issues and garden furniture has just taken off, too."

GCG opened 82 centres on Easter Sunday for its 1.6 million members to browse and Marshall said many came back on Monday to buy.

Many more retailers and wholesalers broke records. Klondyke chief executive Bob Hewitt said: "We're 70 per cent up like-for-like over Easter." Trolleys coming out of centres were filled with "predominantly plants and compost", he added.

Squires managing director Dennis Espley said: "Garden furniture and barbecues were 25 per cent of our turnover. For the three trading days we were 80 per cent up."

Farplants marketing director Nick Richards said: "Sales are incredible. It's the busiest I've seen in 28 years in the industry.

"We've been sending out 1,900 trolleys a day from our distribution centre and our best was 1,100 last year. We're going to go £1m over budget in April and we're 23 per cent up on last year for the year to date."

Buckingham Nurseries & Garden Centre plant publicity officer Chris Day said: "Fantastic plant sales, especially containerised and trained soft and top fruit."

Gardening writer Peter Seabrook said bedding growers might be able to grow and sell an extra crop. "What a spring," he added. "I've never seen anything like it after 50 years in garden retailing."

INDUSTRY REACTION

Caroline Owen, managing director, Scotsdales

"We had our best ever Good Friday and Easter Monday by a long way. The industry is working really well together."

Tammy Woodhouse, managing director, Millbrook garden Company

"Plants have been fantastic. Lots of people have been affected by winter plant deaths and have been replacing things. People are in the mood for getting out in the garden."

Andy McIndoe, managing director, Hillier

"This level of business within a window is unprecedented. The nursery has been working flat out to get orders out to customers on time."


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