Garden centres 'optimistic' about crucial Easter holiday weekend

Poor weather has forced trade down in March, but hopes remain high for a strong Easter trading period.

Garden centre operators remain optimistic that Easter will bring good sales after ADAS found poor weather had forced trade down by 40 per cent down in March. The delayed start to the season and late Easter mean this weekend is more important to garden centres than at any time for years. Notcutts Garden Centres managing director Michael Cole said it was “not all doom and gloom”. He said a “head of steam” was building up and that if the weather was good it could be a “bumper Easter”, adding: “I would say there is a mood of cautious optimism.” Director Tony Blake of Worcester-based St Peter’s Garden Centre said staff had been “restocking like mad” and were expecting a busy weekend if the weather held up. But he is worried about the rest of the season: “I think the next 12 months will be particularly difficult. We’ve been through two tough years and I think we are due for another two.” Trelawney Garden Leisure director and Garden Centre Association president David Danning said the poor weather was having a far greater impact on the industry than the reported economic slow-down. He said rising sales of terracotta containers and bedding plants showed people were finding alternative ways to garden when the ground was too cold to plant. The hosepipe ban has hit sales but operators are being positive by promoting water butts and drought-resistant plants. Leicestershire-based Woodlands Nurseries operations manager Alyson Haywood said people were buying, but were avoiding furniture and big-ticket items. She said she hoped good Easter weather would generate sales, adding: “We’re a solar-powered industry.” Although Leicestershire has not had a hosepipe ban, Woodlands has sold half the water butts it sold last year in the past two weeks. Haywood said: “There is a belief that there will be a national ban so people are preparing for that.”

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