Retailers look ahead to vital May bank holidays

May bank holidays are building in importance for garden centres after a slow March and Easter, with "all to play for" in the coming weeks and competition hotting up between big retailers.

Garden centres: May bank holiday more important this year due to early Easter that was blighted by bad weather - image: HW
Garden centres: May bank holiday more important this year due to early Easter that was blighted by bad weather - image: HW

Mdj2 Associates director Andy Newman said: "Garden centres will now be looking ahead to the early May bank holiday to really drive sales. I would suggest most will have been pretty reserved in their expectations for an early Easter weekend, as it rarely delivers the kick-start for the season everyone in the industry needs. That said, improving temperatures since Easter will have helped to drive some footfall as keen gardeners spring into action. There is still plenty to play for in April with three weekends still to come before the big bank holiday - and as always a few days of sunshine are all it takes to transform footfall and sales."

He added: "The first May bank holiday weekend usually signals the start of the furniture and barbecue season too, so centres will be focusing plenty of attention on this. We can expect to see Bunnings and B&Q go properly head-to-head for the first time over the bank holiday weekend too, with lawnmowers, barbecues and bedding plants likely to be the key focus. Indications suggest their advertising will be all about price. Garden centres, meanwhile, can focus on delivering the great standards, plant quality and service that sets them apart from the 'sheds'. With seven or eight peak weeks still to come, it really is all to play for."

Malcolm Scott Consultants director Malcolm Scott said sales have begun after a slow start. "May bank holiday is more important this year because of the early Easter, which fell on a bad weather weekend after a wet and cold March. In January, we thought all the all the plants would be over by April, but suddenly it went cold and it's been a bit depressing and most centres have been down until early April."

Garden Centre Association chief executive Iain Wylie said of the May bank holidays: "I don't think it is do or die. Against budgets there's not an issue but looking against last year there are big figures to chase for April because it had Easter in, so these bank holidays will be important."

He pointed out that an early Easter always means lost momentum in garden centres, while Longacres' Mike Ainley said sales are "patchy" although the first weekend in April was good, especially as it was comparing against Easter in 2015.

The weather forecast will see temperatures starting to go consistently above 12 degsC in the last fortnight of the month for the first time this year. Ainley added: "Given that Easter was so early and cold we could do with some good weather for the two May bank holidays." He said the first weekend in April, which coincided with Easter 2015, was better than Easter 2016.

Retail consultant Neville Stein said: "Plant sales over the Easter period were not as strong as they could have been had the weather been more conducive to gardening. A slowish start to the season should mean pent-up demand for plants and if the weather is good at the end of the month the first bank holiday in May could result in strong plant sales. Having Easter at a different time each year brings challenges for garden retailers and makes it more difficult to plan, so there might be some mileage in considering a fixed date for Easter."

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

Regional showcase - GroSouth

Regional showcase - GroSouth

A wide range of exhibitors and speakers will feature at GroSouth to update visitors on all the latest industry topics, writes Matthew Appleby.

Pots and containers

Pots and containers

Superior propagation products can justify extra expenditure by providing precise cell fill, optimum root development and healthy plugs, writes Sally Drury.

Business Planning - Inflationary pressures

Business Planning - Inflationary pressures

How can horticulture businesses respond to Brexit-fuelled inflation? Neville Stein outlines the options.

Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Garden retail Top 100 GARDEN CENTRES

Our exclusive ranking of garden centre performance by annual turnover. NEW: 2016 listing just published

Garden Centre Prices

GARDEN CENTRE PRICES w/e 21 September 2016
GARDEN CENTRE PRICES w/e 24 August 2016

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here