Gardens are the main stage for family re-unions as England moves to the next stage of the Roadmap today, and garden centres have been reporting their busiest ever day on Saturday this weekend.
Despite continued tight management of customer numbers and social distancing GTN received various reports for garden centres across England of Saturday 27th March being their busiest ever with furniture sales featuring large in those sales figures.
British Garden Centres had its best day ever for the group, overtaking the record days of May 2020.
Alan Roper, Blue Diamond, commented that it was an "industry wide phenomenon," with centres reporting record levels of furniture sales.
Derek Bunker at Altons in Essex told GTN Xtra: "We had our busiest day ever on saturday. Everything went crazy. Garden furniture, bbqs, outdoor plants,house plants landscape materials. It was absolutely amazing and the weather here was not particularly good with cloudy skies and a cold wind. The trick now is to restock when most suppliers have little stock."
At Baytree Garden Centre in Spalding, Nigel Wallis described Saturday as "Blooming marvellously crackers!"
Gerald Ingram said: "Planters and Bretby both had their busiest ever days. Planters up by about £7,000 and Bretby up by at least £15,000! Its been unbelievable and that’s before the restaurants re-open! Furniture accounted for 20% of all sales last week."
Some garden centres had been so busy they were unable to comment on actual sales levels yesterday; "Haven't got a bloody clue! Reported Sam at Bosworths near Kettering. "I'm too busy trying to find more stock and working out what has hit me."
And in the South West, Charlie Groves told us: "I think it was a record day, especially if you take catering out of the figures. It was certainly the busiest ever March day. The customers all seemed to be very excited to see the sun come out and a chance to get back in the garden. It was great to see plants and core gardening going so well. The only down side was the amount of furniture enquires we had and the lack of furniture we have been able to get hold of but I guess you can’t have it all."
John Ainscow at Summerseat Garden Centre, that featured on BBC Breakfast on Friday, (pictured above) said: "It was our third busiest day ever at Bradley Fold only beaten by a day last May and one last November. Apparently Monty Don was sowing tomato seeds last Friday, quite correctly, end of March. We’ve been selling tomato plants, not seed, which we grow ourselves, for over four weeks. To back-up our hard hit supply we contacted Quantil and Colourgrow and both said no plants available due to incredible demand. Really is amazing, we’ve probably already sold approaching 2,000 plants between our two centres, marked up of course, “Protect from frost”. Bit ominous for the summer bedding season."
After Summerseats starring role on BBC Breakfast on Friday there was a feature on BBQ's on ITV's Good Morning, numerous local radio slots about gardens and gardening and the over the weekend as well as the usual, now regular gardening programming there was a long feature about houseplants as part of Channel 4 News on Saturday evening.
No wonder the airwaves this morning are full of stories about how people have been preparing their gardens so they can have family re-unions this week. And to cap it all we now have three days of glorious weather forecast. Gardening is not just centre stage right now, it is the main stage!
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Justin Williams at Fron Goch, who were only able to re-open on March 22nd says: "Everyday last week was better than any previous best days. Furniture and trees and shrubs playing a major part of course. The furniture demand is incredible - I imagine this year is a once in Lifetime situation for gardening demand. Customers comfortable within the centre and very happy to be back. Great to see happy customers once again in the centre."
At Klondyke, who still have garden centres that have been unable to re-open yet in Scotland, David Yardley comments: "We had a very busy week last week but as the Scottish centres are closed it wasn’t our busiest ever but was our best ever week in March. We had two centres have their best day ever and best week ever but it was a long way short of the last week in May last year. We did see a jump again in ATV which is encouraging but this was caused by the increase in furniture sales more than anything else."
In the North West, Newbank's Jon Bottomley has told GTN Xtra: It isn’t just this weekend, we beat our best ever day by 30% every weekend day for the past month. We are currently trading at 4 times usual turnover since January, the decision to ship furniture in October has really paid off and we have a pre-order sheet which is like war and peace. All other departments are flying but furniture is driving the sales through the stratosphere. We honestly don’t know how we’re going to cope if this continues but we will!"
At Perrywood, Simon Bourne reports: "It was exceptionally busy and was a record day on Saturday at Tiptree. We've been busy every single day of March and for the last 10 days we've been trading at approx double our normal expectation.
Lets hope it can continue for a few more weeks!"
Martin Davies at Raglan Garden Centre in Wales has just added: "Yes, like everywhere else Saturday was the busiest day ever and it has been unbelievably busy since we re-opened last Monday. Saturday was the perfect storm, pent up demand, money to spend and the definite feeling of get it now before it’s gone. Takings almost 40% up on our best day last May. Mark Drakeford has a lot to answer for, instead of an orderly start to the season he has created a frenzy of demand with our delayed opening, which we may not be able to cope with if this level of trade continues."
While day records weren't broken at Bents Garden & Home, Matthew Bent tells us: "it was a great weekend. We found that plants, compost, pots and gardening were selling really well. Outdoor living, including furniture and BBQs are really booming as everyone gets ready for being allowed in their gardens. Lets hope the spring weather is as good as last year."
Mothers Day was still the best Saturday for Longacres at Bagshot due to their on-site floristry business. Nigel Long said however that the smaller Longacres stores were very close to their best ever Saturday this weekend. "Bagshot has always worked on a numbers game so on a major Saturday we would have 5,000 to 6,000 customers through the door. Obviously at the moment we are having to restrict those numbers by more than half. As with everyone else the average basket sale has increased and we have increased our opening hours in the week and on a Saturday. So the week just gone was just shy of our best week ever!"
Did you also have your busiest ever day on Saturday? Please use the comments link below or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org