The HTA has highlighted the importance of special events and other initiatives designed to drive garden centre footfall, revealing the schemes of some of its marketing committee members.
Committee member Burleydam Garden Centre on The Wirral holds a programme of family events from animal petting sessions to sunflower growing, and, for Father’s Day, hosts a Harley Davidson exhibit.
Bents Garden Centre in Warrington runs a range of events from ‘Inspiring you to do’ drop-ins, story time sessions, a monthly farmers market and weekly ‘Ready, steady, dig’ sessions for schools.
Bird box painting and exotic animal visits (armadillos and meerkats) are among events at Hilltop and Studley Garden Centres, along with soft play which has been installed on both sites. For the May Bank Holiday Hilltop was due to host a circus for three days.
Scotsdales Garden Centre meanwhile employs a team of Garden Angels to guide customers and provide advice and information. The centre also runs regular gardening clinics.
HTA director general Carol Paris said: "Whilst plants and gardening remain at the core of the garden industry – they are our USP - it is increasingly important that for year round appeal garden centres develop activities and events to drive footfall.
"Often working closely with their local communities garden centres can offer a relaxing and pleasant shopping environment far different from the High Street.
"Consumers continue to seek authentic products and experiences and garden centres are well placed to deliver these. Time is precious and by providing people with enjoyable and memorable experiences they are more likely to make return visits and purchases."