The HTA have launched the HTA Safe Trading Guidance for all garden centres. This is to allow garden centres to prepare and implement when the Government gives the go-ahead for stores to reopen. These guidelines and the store signage can be found here. There will be a separate process where garden centres will be asked to register on the Plants Near Me website and acknowledge that they are following the guidance. The HTA will be issuing further communication on this.
The guidelines start with the following Macro protocols:
Cafes /restaurants should remain closed – no on-site food consumption.
• For the avoidance of doubt, no takeaway food sold on site should be consumed on site.
• Food departments; food hall; farm shops should operate under same hygiene and safe distancing protocols as rest of store.
Products to be sold should be restricted to plants; seeds; bulbs; composts /growing media; pots/ planters; garden hardware (tools; propagation equipment; fertilisers; pest control; irrigation etc.) and those products directly associated with the support thereof; pet foods and accessories; food products/cookware.
• For the avoidance of doubt no giftware/homeware; clothing; garden furniture; large BBQs to be sold on site – We would encourage online sales only/home delivery.
• These restrictions are designed to prevent ‘browsing’ and unnecessary contact with staff and other customers.
• These restrictions would be lifted as and when other retail restrictions are relaxed, or as social distancing protocols are fully enforceable.
It is strongly advised not to promote special deals or other aggressive marketing policies that lead to a surge in customer numbers.
Store space should be restricted to these areas (as above) with customer access to other areas prohibited.
• This requires the physical separation of stores and possible remerchandising of areas to maximise aisle widths and social distancing.
• The use of shop fixtures to achieve this would be encouraged or taped off areas robust enough to discourage customer wanderings
• Aisles should be as wide as possible and free from stock that would impede free flow.
• Fire escapes should be clearly kept open even if behind taped off areas.
Our strong recommendation is that customer numbers be controlled to 1 per 1000 square feet.
• Operators should use their discretion as to what is the safe number of customers to allow in a garden centre taking into account overall space, aisle widths and number of checkouts.
• Square feet is defined as gross square footage of available retail sales area – outdoor and indoor.
• This calculation will need to be done in advance by all those proposing to operate
• Customers in store should be limited to this number on a one in one out basis.
• Our advice would be to have a staff member controlling this at the entrance door but to avoid unnecessary queuing our strong recommendation would be to control the number of cars coming into the car park.
Entrance and exit from the premises should be separate – a minimum separation of 2m between doors.
• If the infrastructure at your store doesn’t suit this, then we recommend that you create another entrance alongside or directly through your plant area, or Goods Inwards area.
• Maintaining a one-way flow is a desirable outcome where possible. If store layout allows, use signage (and/ or marshals) to achieve this.
The guidance then goes into more detail for each protocol starting with site control, where restricting numbers to the store is a key objective.
This can be best achieved by limiting the number of cars accessing your car park.
- Controlling or restricting the number of car parking spaces available. Using pallets in alternate spaces, may assist this.
- Installing the appropriate signage at car park entrances will help.
- We would advise having a member of staff to control site accessibility and car parking.
- Customers should be encouraged to shop with trollies only avoiding baskets. This helps social distancing and allows easier cleaning of handles.
All trollies returned for reuse should have their handles wiped down.
- All customers should be offered gloves and hand sanitiser on arrival should they not have their own.
- Allow a maximum of only two individuals to shop together.
The full guidelines can be found at: https://hta.org.uk/uploads/assets/633bb2d9-1918-47b5-9e2cb314ae1f6753/c8ad1b20-42f7-4fbc-963fe928960a1709/HTA-Safe-Trading-Guidance.pdf