Garden centres pin hopes on May bank holiday weekend

Garden centre owners are expecting a record May bank holiday as they claw their way back into positive figures following a weather-hit first quarter of the season.

Some garden centres are now up on April 2010 after being well down in the first 3 months of the year.

Cambridge-based Scotsdale managing director Caroline Owen said that her centre was now 0.5% up on the strong April 2009.

Owen said: "January and February are relatively small months anyway. We've gone positive in April now but moving ahead of last year depends on the weather in May. I hope we will make up this by the end of May if we get good weather. I'm relatively optimistic because May was not the best month last year and we're having a terrific time now because of the weather we're having."

Dorset-based Haskins buying director Philip Evason said: "Things have spiked quite nicely. By the first May bank holiday we hope to have clawed back."

But in the Newcastle, Cowell's garden centre owner Alan Cowell said: "We're still double digit figures down in April. We were 40% down but we've pulled that back to 13%. We took serious money last weekend and I'd be very disappointed if the May bank holiday was not the best weekend of the year so far."

Cowell said hardy nursery stock was selling best but he had thrown away £30,000 of frost-damaged stock.

GCA chief executive Gillie Westwood said: "This is going to be a good bank Holiday. April should be up but the next two months will be critical for garden centres."

GCA figures showed March was 10% down on 2009 figures and the year to 31 March was 6% down. Garden sundries such as weedkillers have been well behind — around 40% — because plant growth was so slow coming.


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