Holiday sales slump sparks calls for all-weather garden centres

Weather hits retailers on key weekend.

Garden centres will have to look at being less weather-dependent after poor weather hit trade this bank holiday weekend, say retailers. A Wyevale representative said: “You only had to look at the weather to see it wasn’t a great weekend. The second half of May has not been very nice. We’re optimistic that we’ll get some back in June. “There will be some bigger people in the DIY trade tearing their hair out. Anyone this time of year who benefits from high traffic will definitely have seen a downturn. “We need to be much less seasonally dependent — selling 60 per cent in three or four months. We’re trying to use food as a traffic generator, with coffee shops spreading turnover throughout the year.” Cheshire-based Bents managing director Matthew Bent said indoor attractions helped beat the poor weather. “Bents’ focus since we opened the restaurant in 1980 has been to make the business less seasonally dependent. We went into Christmas in a big way in the early days and our current developments, including the £3m Open Skies development, is all about all-weather shopping.” Bents’ restaurant on Saturday and Sunday was up on 2006, with Saturday down on budget and Sunday up. For the garden centre, both days were slightly up on last year. Monday’s sales in the garden centre were down on budget and also down on last year but the restaurant was above its ambitious 11 per cent budget. Shoots in West Sussex was up 25 per cent on 2006, said co-founder Piers Mummery. “It was good despite three solid days of rain. Monday was rammed, because we are family-friendly,” she said. HTA representative Erica Harper said Saturday was a “great day” for centres but that Sunday and -Monday were quiet, with one -retailer -reportedly 50 per cent down on last year. Indoor attractions fared better, with “people looking for places to go that were undercover”.

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