Retailers ready for Easter as weather becomes more unsettled

MDJ2 director Andy Newman said last weekend saw "the firing of the gun", which plant suppliers have confirmed.

Newman added: "An early Easter is not ever great for anyone," and that although B&Q and Homebase would compete hard on price during Easter weekend "garden centres don’t need to get drawn into it". He said "expertise should carry them through" and "no-one needs to panic early".

Newman said "no-one was reacting to trading at this stage" and that many garden retailers would not be thinking that everything hangs on next weekend, with the first May Bank Holiday more important.

Tong Garden Centre co-owner Mark Farnworth said: "Things really picked up for us last week with the better weather. Temperatures have not been much above 10 degrees yet. It’s still very early season. We’ve given the centre a full makeover and it’s very encouraging what we’ve seen in the last week. If we continue in that vein we’ll be very pleased. All we need is settled weather."

The Met Office said: "After a period of settled weather, things will gradually turn wet and windy through the week. For the next few days the weather across the UK will still be largely dominated by the blocking high pressure. This will continue to bring largely dry conditions to many parts, with some sunshine in which it will feel quite pleasant. However, it will be often rather cloudy and a little rain is possible, especially in the north and west.

"On Thursday a frontal system is expected to push in from the west. This will bring wind and rain as it marches eastwards across the UK through the day.

"Good Friday is currently looking like the best day of the Easter weekend weather-wise for most people. There may be some lingering rain in the east and southeast at first, but this should clear. Otherwise there is likely to be a good deal of dry weather with some sunshine for most, before further rain edges in from the northwest later.

"The rest of the long weekend looks generally unsettled with longer spells of rain interspersed by brighter, showery conditions. Showers in the north could also turn wintry over the hills and it will be windy, with the risk of gales, possibly severe."

One leading supplier told Horticulture Week: "Last week, the gun fired and we've been inundated with retailers wanting product for Easter weekend.

"It's come a bit late but it's come just in time for us to clear spring lines before the main season kicks in."

HTA horticulture head Raoul Curtis-Machin said: "In general everyone is pretty optimistic. There was good sell through which warm weather accelerated. The cold snap came and things are back on track now. I can see cracking sales this Easter though the weather is the great unknown."

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