Phew, what a scorcher! After four glorious days GTN Xtra reports on prospects for Bank Holiday trading records being broken across the country starting with an update from Dobbies Garden Centres where they say sales sizzled over the Bank Holiday Weekend: "Following a record-breaking heatwave weekend in April, Dobbies Garden Centres has continued to trade strongly, with the garden centre company seeing its biggest ever May Day Bank Holiday weekend (Saturday 05 – Monday 07 May). BBQ sales were particularly strong, up 229% compared to 2017. Plants and gardening categories also did well, with all three categories delivering their biggest ever weekend in terms of sales.
Graeme Jenkins, Chief Operating Officer at Dobbies Garden Centres, said: “The beautiful weather over the bank holiday weekend drove great sales for our plants and gardening ranges. People want to spend time in the garden when the weather picks up, and it’s only natural that they want to have it looking its best. Barbecuers were clearly out in force over the weekend too. BBQs are great in that there’s one to suit every chef and every budget, from pack-up-and-go models to multi-functional grill and smoker combos.”
Martin Stewart of Stewarts Garden Centres told us on Tuesday morning: “What an amazing weekend. Sales for the 3 centres up 45% on the bank holiday of last year when we were running out of steam.
Yesterday broke all records by a good margin. The teams played a blinder. High stock levels helped a great deal. What is surprising for us when you are so close to some of the best beaches in the country is that such hot weather can drive people away from the Centres. It just shows how much genuine gardening demand there is out there. Although we are still down on last year it’s what things look like at the end of June that matters.”
Simon Bourne at Perrywood: “Well that was pretty awesome! We smashed our all time record today and ended up with a record weekend all round. Plants of all descriptions, compost, plant feeds, parasols, table sets and barbecues were all stand-out categories. The next target is to have a huge May. I'd like to do 20% more than our previous biggest May, two years ago. We're well on track but it will be quite something if we get there.”
In the Midlands, Planters at Bretby recorded their highest figure yesterday beating last year and Planters Tamworth recorded it's highest ever Spring trading day. Mark Shaw, Planters Bretby told GTN Xtra; "whilst very busy over the weekend at long last, we haven’t quite achieved the high figures from the corresponding Bank Holiday 2017, especially the Restaurant which possibly suffered due to the very warm weather." And Sarah Faulkener, Planters Tamworth added: “To my knowledge the weekend just gone has been the second best ever ,there is one weekend in December that is more. But for spring its beaten all others.”
In Scotland John Stevenson of Torwood Garden Centre thought they were in some alternative parallel universe from the BBC weather forecasterson Saturday where it stayed overcast and cool all day. "Sales were surprisingly good considering, so that was a plus at end of day. Sunday and Monday the sun shone at last and had the tills ringing with a record ever day on the Bank Holiday Monday. Will still be down on last YTD but things are getting back on track."
And even further North the weather wasn't helping at Brechin Castle Garden Centre. Yvonne Richie tells us; "Our weather has not been great, Saturday was cold, Sunday was warm and sunny, and the sales reflected this, we have a tropical temperature today of 12 degrees. It is Scotland, we live in hope of record breaking sales, but not this bank holiday."
In the North West, Jon Bottomley at Newbank Garden Centres said: “Our best ever day was recorded yesterday at Radcliffe branch. Beaten our best ever day by 20 percent. Thank god!”
Justin Williams at Fron Goch Garden Centre said: “We have just had two record weekends and today is looking good, with good weather coinciding with marketing for the 1st time this year. Looks on track to be a record breaker - but we have a lot to make up after March and April!”
Adam Wigglesworth at Aylett Nurseries was a little more cautious; “I don't think it will be a record but we have been very busy! We will see what today brings...”
James Evans at Ruxley Manor told GTN Xtra: “Been a busy couple of days so far and so hopefully that will continue today... We certainly need it to!”
Andy Bunker at Alton Garden Centre said we should all wait to see what today brings before shouting about a record; “we’ve had very similar turnover in £ in plants, furniture and BBQ’s with excellent numbers. It was a buy it Saturday on all the above and do it on Sunday as quite a drop yesterday around 30%. It is really relevant to WAIT and see what today brings. My feeling is it will be bang in middle, not the dizzy heights of Saturday but better than Sunday.
At Brookside in Kent, Simon Shead told us: “The whole week has been record breaking, still got a long way to go but we should get there.”
Sam Bosworth chose the right weekend to open their new centre at Elton Hall to the east of Peterborough: “It’s been non-stop, but great fun. We opened at Elton on Saturday, plants and gardening only though. Booked some fantastic weather for opening day, cheaper and more effective than a gardening celebrity! We are looking to get catering open by Saturday 26th May. Still lots to do, but signs are good. Very much a plant centre, and no doubt lots to learn, but hopefully it is what we are good at. We’ve definitely had a record weekend at Bosworths and it has been mad trying to service that volume of trade. Over at Elton it is nice and steady and calm but no staff hired here yet, so it is like going back in time for me.”
Colin Dale from Notcutts reports: “Saturday was about 70% over last year's plant sales & Sunday about 50%, so great hopes for today also. There is a lot of pent up demand for plants & gardening, with furniture & BBQ's also doing very well.”
They are celebrating at Baytree in Spalding: “It has been a fab weekend so far, think we will smash all previous years at this rate,” said Nigel Wallis. “We have Ben Bartlett doing demos today with Grillstream BBQs, live music through the day and a Baravan!!”
At Scotsdales, Caroline Owen thinks “that our shoppers will be out early on Bank Holiday Monday and may then choose rightly to spend the time in their garden. A record is a possibility.”
James Ducker at Langlands had packed car parks at all centres with bedding flying out. “I was out helping staff load up lorries to deliver bedding from our nursery at 5am this morning. It’s set to be a record Bank Holiday weekend.”
Haskins MD, Julian Winfield is hoping for some cooler weather. “I expect the weather has been too good for records, everyone goes to the beach for three of our four centres. Forecast looks good for the next couple weeks and a little cooler. Saturday sales were very good.”
Further North sales have been high at Klondyke: “Yes it was a good weekend with the bank holiday Monday still to come. The weather further North has been good but not really warm, still good for gardening. We will see how the Monday compares,” reported CEO David Yardley
British Garden Centres, Phillippa Stubbs also told GTN Xtra they were having a very busy weekend “some of our centres have had record days and we are currently on target for a record weekend as our group which is excellent. Long may this weather continue. This is bringing us back level at some of the centres so positive. Now to keep restocking and watering.”
Mike Ryan from, The Cherry Lane group who acquired Davids Nurseries last week said “Trading has been superb so far this weekend, with most of our garden centre's breaking records. If Monday goes the same way, some will have had their best three trading days ever!”
After an appearance on BBC Radio 5 Live’s breakfast show on Sunday morning, Matthew Bent told us “It’s been two great days, customers are going mad for garden products." then after helping get stock out fro today with the team he added; "we did have a record weekend, it was the biggest ever in the spring season. Amazing weekend, many items we had our best ever day on, BBQs, planned containers as customers get ready for the nice weather."
Final word for today goes to James Debbage of Green Pastures in Norwich who was re-stocking until 9:30pm last night: “I literally just finished replenishing the basket plant displays ready for the morning. Not enough hours in the day at the moment! (I swear I’m even working in my sleep right now!). Our weekend got off to a fantastic start on Saturday until there was an accident a mile up the road and the police closed the main route to us from Norwich which really put the dampers on the afternoon! Please can we have a level playing field? However, Sunday was a record day for the garden centre and the restaurant was full throughout the day, from breakfast right through to afternoon tea."
James then added on Monday evening: “Having narrowly broken our daily sales record yesterday, we totally smashed it today! Hardly any big ticket sales, just a LOT of plants!"
If you'd like to update us with your trading performance over the Bank Holiday weekend please use the comments link below or e-mail email@example.com
Thanks to Blue Diamond for the images, they well ad truly joined in with World Naked Gardening Day on Saturday and their social media was very busy as were we expect the centres...