At GTN we've just received the top line numbers for GTN Bestsellers up to Easter Sunday and as far as volume sales are concerned this years first Easter week was the best since 2015. We won't have data for Easter Monday until next week, when we will be able to report on the full Easter period analysis.
In the meantime, we've been asking centres how Easter was for them and their teams and did they break any trading records for Easter Monday.
Here, in aphabetical order are the responses we've had during today, Tuesday 23rd April 2019:
Andy Bunker, Alton Garden Centre, who was on BBC Radio 5 Live’s 'Wake Up To Money' programme on Easter Monday morning at 5:30am! https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0004ff3 listen from 36 minutes into the programme…
“Easter Monday was our best ever plant dept. day by + 11%, our last best was Whitsun 2017. Overall we have just come through best ever day by over 7% and over DOUBLE on Easter last year.”
Adam Wigglesworth, Aylett Nurseries told us: “Easter was the perfect weather for trade, which resulted in strong sales throughout the weekend. All areas performed very well, with Garden furniture particularly strong. it is still too early to predict the end result of the critical March to June period of trade, especially as May and June were so good last year, but it has been a very encouraging season so far.”
Nigel Wallis, Baytree Garden Centre reckons he did 7 miles running around the centre yesterday; “It was a bonkers weekend! Furniture sales were amazing, and the plant sales incredible, and not just summer bedding. We only just kept up with getting customer trolleys back into the centre! I can’t believe how much compost has sold. Weekends like this just show what a great team we have at Baytree.”
Alan Roper, Blue Diamond MD reports that “Bank Holiday Monday appears to have broken records with figures still coming in. Bicester Avenue took nearly £90K ex VAT (including the restaurant) yesterday which was a huge jump on last year. The group excluding ex-Wyevale's was up 4% during the week ending on Easter Sunday. There was a bandwidth of individual centre performances with that of 1% to 9% up.
"Our ex-Wyevale’s were up 47%. Group up 14% overall. A number of centres have all reported record days, but a day does not a season make, never has, never will do. We have big months from last year to beat on the horizon.
“Garden furniture was exactly 50% up for us last week but again weather just shifts timing of purchase on furniture , there’s a long season ahead.
“Gardening appears to be have been very strong yesterday, but last week with a key weekend day being missing (albeit an Easter week) the comparative sale on gardening and plants are mixed with some centres up and some down. Gardening up 4% plants up 7% overall.”
Steve Cole, manager at Blue Diamond East Bridgford added: "We had our best day so far at East Bridgford on Easter Monday with retail sales of £97k! Our previous best was £70k’s up to Christmas and Saturday just gone.
"We used the grass bank for parking again which helped but pressure on parking from 12-4 and till queue’s were 6 deep all afternoon, with all tills open and packers there to help."
Sam Bosworth, Bosworths Garden Centres said: “It was a really strong weekend, particularly considering we were up against the first good sales weekend of last year, whereas sales have been fairly good throughout the season so far this year.
“We were up on the week, despite being a day’s trading down on Sunday. Good Friday was our second busiest day ever, Easter Monday our fourth. All weekend was strong for Plants, excellent start for the bedding season. Catering was consistent all weekend, again at the top end of our trading levels.
“Furniture peaked on Friday, then slowed down, the customers knew the weather was coming and they wanted to get set for the weekend. We are running out of some stock and hoping that Suppliers will be true to their word as to when our next containers are due.
“It will be good going into May with YTD figures around 27% up, as last year's May will be tough to get anywhere near, but after this weekend, who knows what is achievable?”
Graeme Jenkins, Dobbies CEO reports a record Easter weekend for the group that will be come the biggest garden centre retailer in the UK when they complete the acquisition of another 31 centres from Wyevale in June. "Record sales for each individual day across the weekend, with Easter Monday being our biggest Easter weekend day ever," he told GTN Xtra this evening. "Plants, gardening & outdoor furniture driving performance, all recording a best ever Easter weekend.
"Our Outdoor Furniture sales were three times higher than the previous Easter record."
Justin Williams, Fron Goch Garden Centre, tells us that in North Wales; “we had beautiful weather here.
"We had an excellent week leading up to Easter, 30.9% up on the same week last year, good interest in Garden furniture and outdoor cooking.
“The fine weather did mean footfall wasn't that high over the Easter weekend with people enjoying the beaches and mountains but spending held up well.
“We've had a great start to the season, we will probably see our gains eroded somewhat as we come up against last year’s May and June. Let's see how much of it we can hold onto!
James Debbage, Green Pastures, near Norwich: “It was mental and it's been a long time since I can remember an Easter anything like this one. And of course, having to close on such a fabulous Easter Sunday meant I had a really sick feeling all day which unfortunately was nothing to do with eating any eggs!”
Julian Winfield, Haskins Garden Centres said this afternoon: “We had a record Easter Weekend (Fri, Sat and Mon) although I still think the hot weather had a negative impact. Weather and a very late Easter helped so the sales needed to be good. If I exclude Snow Hill figures where we are trading in a tent April is +6.5% and YTD (March and April) +22%.
“The forecast of rain this week is positive for the trade over the next few weeks, my garden is dry!
“All Haskins gardening departments have done well. Fingers crossed for May!”
Keith Laird, Hayes Garden World in the Lake District had a very good Easter with furniture being the star performer for the company. “We were over 120% up on furniture on the four days. The issue is now getting that stock out quickly and efficiently in the next week that will be the issue. We need to be on top of things before the next Bank Holiday comes along.
“The other category that performed was outdoor plants, with a 97% increase over the 4 days.
“We hope this continues and based on furniture I would expect a good season on barbeques too.”
Chris Francis, Hillier Garden Centres told GTN Xtra this morning: “We had 3 record days!
“Plant sales were very strong. Furniture was the outstanding performing category across the weekend.”
Boyd J Douglas-Davies, Hillview Garden Centres said: “We had a fantastic weekend across all sites; it was a record for the group. Particular highlights were garden furniture, summer bedding, hardy plants, pots & composts. Breakfast with the Easter Bunny took place at four stores on Easter Sunday and was a great success.”
David Yardley, Chief Executive, Klondyke Group has been delving into the history to report: “I have looked back over 10 years, and this has been our best Easter weekend ever by quite a margin, 2011 was our best prior to that followed by 2014. These figures are all comparing like for like in centres and excluding any centres we have sold or purchased over that period.
“The same applies to both Good Friday and Easter Monday. Outdoor Leisure was our best performer followed by plants.”
Tammy Woodhouse, Millbrook Garden Centres in Kent says: “We had a great Easter, our best since 2012. We sold plenty of furniture and BBQs but the real winner was plants. Lots of full trollies of plants, compost and gardening products. Easter Monday was up there with one of our best ever days as a business. Long may it continue!”
Steve Searle at Monkton Elm in Somerset reports: “The Bank Holiday weekend was one of the best ever and Monday was a record for us. Furniture and BBQ'S were going as fast as we could load them in customers cars as they wanted them for entertaining over the holiday period.
“Outdoor and bedding plants were also the big winners as customers wanted to start planting seasonal containers up. It just goes to show you can only do so much to sell products, but the weather is the best factor for increasing our sales and you couldn't have asked it to be any better.”
Jon Bottomley, Newbank Garden Centres, was the first to let us know of their Easter success. “We had unbelievable sales this week. Our biggest issue is that our delivery vans are all full for the next three weeks with garden furniture sales being 50% up.
“Then we had our best Easter Monday by 20% since we went Epos. Phenomenal sales across all gardening departments. The improvements we have made last year are really bearing fruit. If I hadn’t wasted time on Wyevale it could have been better!”
Colin Dale at Notcutts said: “Easter was our best ever, over Friday, Saturday & Monday. We had a very strong gardening Easter, with plants & gardening sundries taking pride of place.”
Simon Bourne at Perrywood reports from Essex and Suffolk that; “it was an amazing weekend! Just off our best ever day on Good Friday, we then beat our best ever day by £2k on Saturday and then added another £6k on top of that on Easter Monday.
“Furniture is flying out, we bought more than ever but we've started to sell out of some lines.”
Gerald Ingram, Planters and Garden King told us: “Yes Easter was a record here and Easter Monday a record day in all three centres. That's the first time I've known all three to have the same record day.
“Planters broke their record by a few thousand thanks to strong furniture sales and also the new plant area. The restaurants did not have record days but that's because people were gardening not eating. Garden King has had a very strong run on the back of Facebook deals and offers.”
Martin Breddy, Squires Garden Centres said: “The three days of Easter trading were comfortably our best ever. Five of our centres, Twickenham, Hersham, Washington, Reigate and Chertsey, enjoyed their best ever day of trading over the Easter break. Plants and outdoor living very strong across the whole group.
“We're in good shape. Maybe gardens offer people a good escape from the woes of Brexit?”
Martin Stewart, Stewarts Garden Centres said: “We had a great Easter. Broke loads of records and hope we made loads of visitors happy. The team played a blinder and the centres still looked ready for more on Monday evening.
“So far so good for the spring season of 2019!”
From north of the border, John Stevenson of Torwood Garden Centre adds: “Easter has been fantastic with Easter Monday being our best ever day by some margin.
“Only a week ago today it was wet and very cold but then the sun came through and good Friday was sensational. Sunday, we took less money as there were no big furniture sales, we thought most must have bought Friday and Saturday to make the most of the sun, although all weekend was very busy for plants etc.
“However, furniture sales picked up again on Monday and helped make it our busiest ever for sales. The only bit of the shop that was quieter over the weekend was the café where it was too warm!
“I haven't done my sales figures for percentages yet, but up to last weekend we were 25% up YTD. Happy days!
Robert Mason, Sturmer Nurseries told us: "‘By far and away our best Easter ever. Four days of sunshine, four days of excellent trade.
"Even Easter Sunday, when we just trade from outside the shop, was brisk. A far cry from Easter Sunday 2007 when we took just £30!"
And the final word on Easter for the time being comes from Anthony Jones, Chief Operating Officer at Wyevale: “We are delighted to have enjoyed our best-ever Easter weekend with record breaking sales. Performance for the weekend was well over 100% up year-on-year and more than double our average Easter weekend takings.
“We also significantly outperformed 2014 and 2017, when Easter fell in the same week. Customers snapped up plant ranges including early purchase of Summer bedding, in addition to a clear shift in to garden furniture and BBQ categories.”
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