Garden centre owners eye strong Christmas

Snow, not economy regarded as chief threat to garden centres on poinsettia and tree prospects.

Garden centre owners are predicting a strong Christmas - as long as the snow holds off.

In 2010-11, the weather ruined sales for the 10 days before Christmas. But despite the economy, top retailers say this year is set to do better.

Dobbies head of horticulture Neil Fishlock said: "There are a number of things that are fundamentally Christmas and one is turkey, one is trees and one is poinsettia.

"People may go down one size in trees but they will still want a fresh tree that smells nice as a focal point. Our view on poinsettia is like trees - a solid plant that has life in the home beyond a couple of days."

He continued: "It's about colour choices and not just red as a point of difference - a good-quality plant in a range of colour and sizes that enables us to offer what the customer wants.

"If you want cheap, supermarkets offer that and that's fine. In garden centres prices go up but supermarkets have used them to drive footfall. It's more important in garden centres to offer choice and quality."

Barton Grange managing director Guy Topping added: "There are very good prospects for Christmas. In hard times people see Christmas as a comfort blanket. Last year was fantastic until all the snow. As long as the snow stays away we will be similar. Christmas tree and poinsettia prices will stay the same."

Retailer's View

Caroline Owen, managing director, Scotsdales Garden Centre

"I don't see any reason why we shouldn't do well. We've not seen any signs of the economy hitting sales at Scotsdales. We'll be doing offers on trees to do with sizes, although consumers come back year on year. With poinsettias, I don't think prices are going up at all. There are price points at £2.99, £4.99 and £9.99. People may not be spending on larger purchases but they will spend in the garden centre."

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