In This Issue
HTA Chairman calls on industry to celebrate efforts of 2020 and look toward 2021 from a position of preparedness
GCA Chairman's New Year message: "I am looking at 2021 with optimism"
New Year predictions from the "Bunker Booth"
HTA President says we must make sure we understand the modern gardeners needs
The GTN Xtra Top 100 Most Read Stories of 2020
No 1 Most Read Story 2020 - Garden Centres close their doors "We want to be part of stopping the spread of Coronavirus"
No 2 Most Read Story 2020 - Trading update from this weekend - UPDATED
No 3 Most Read Story 2020 - Garden centres in England and Scotland can stay open - now is the time to review Covid-19 safety
No 4 Most Read Story 2020 - Exeter garden centre stays open but cannot sell plants - Cherry Lane close all centres
No 5 Most Read Story 2020 - Dobbies remain open and social media gets heated
No.6 to No.10 Most Read Stories in 2020
Who will be the winners in GTN's Greatest Christmas Awards? There's still time to enter before the New Years Eve closing date
GTN's Trevor Pfeiffer reviews 2020 with Peter Seabrook
The New Environmentalist - Nature will become ‘second nature’ to future generations
Over £7,000 worth of prizes to be won in GTN's Greatest Christmas Awards
Get your own copy of GTN Xtra
Stax emerges strong from a trying year
Gardenex, PetQuip and the CHA launch new initiative following Brexit trade deal
The best of last week's
Decision to close Scottish garden centres ‘disappointing’
Local community saves Thetford Garden Centre from flooding
Record entries to popular Illumination Street contest
Christmas decorations made from natural materials
Get set for Garden Re-Leaf Day 2021!
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Garden Centre Photo Tours
Barton Grange Christmas 2020 - Exclusive GTN Xtra Photo Tour
Squires Badshot Lea - Christmas 2020
Perrywood at Christmas 2020 - with correct photo gallery now...
British Garden Centres open their 58th centre at Thatcham
Haskins Snowhill re-opens after £15m re-vamp
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No 2 Most Read Story 2020 - Trading update from this weekend - UPDATED
From GTN Xtra - Issue 11 2020

As garden centres trade through the first weekend after the move to the Delay phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, GTN Xtra has been asking garden centre managers and owners how trading has been this weekend and about their thoughts for the coming weeks.


Martin Stewart told GTN Xtra that the two supermarkets close to their Christchurch centre had been busy all weekend with shelves cleared out as customers stocked up.  "It's just like pre-Christmas food shopping here but we still had a fantastic day yesterday.  With the rain today if the situation was normal we would be saying the weather is deterring people.


"At Abbey where there are no supermarkets nearby we were 30% up last week.


"I have one wish that is places like us are able to keep trading, we can cope with a spring that is 10% down but we don't want the panic of all shops being closed down. We can run our business leanly if need be and hopefully garden centres will continue to be seen as safe places to be."


Nigel Long at Longacres has tlod GTN Xtra on Wednesday morning: "We have seen some large increases in various departments ,but especially in household ,food and gardening.  Customers look like that they are stock piling just in case that they have been told to self-isolate.

"We've also had a large increase on local deliveries across all departments.  Catering yesterday dropped off the cliff and we will try and promote take away coffees and teas from now on.

"Let hope things get better soon.


At Bents Garden And Home, Matthew Bent says: ""Food sales are doing really well, especially meat and essentials.   Plants, compost, seeds, edibles are really flying, customers are getting ready to spend time in their garden at home.


"We have put extra ranges of products in and more stock on the shop floor. In the restaurants there has been a big downturn and we've been widening between tables, reminding customers in the queues to leave space and the numbers have reduced massively."


Gerald Ingram at Planters sent us this update on Monday morning: "Trade has been very strong for the past week although the restaurants actually traded down slightly. We get the impression people are stocking up on essentials like compost, seeds and veg plants. This week last year saw a big upswing
because of the weather being dramatically better so we may not match the figures, but that’s a weather issue not COVID 19."


Sam Bosworth in the Midlands reports: "Trade is still down on 2019, but up on 2018. Trade year to date to the end of week 10 in 2020 is 22% up on 2018, but 5% down on 2019. 


"The weather is still currently a bigger influence than COVID-19, it is raining as I look outside now at a quiet car park, but the virus is really big long term issue to us and the trade. We have spent this morning looking at scenarios and trying to make plans. These include for total closure to retail businesses, closure of restaurants, or just a significant reduction in trade.


"Trade is still OK, coffee shops ticking along, but a noticeable difference in demographics. Our Elton store has a significantly older demographic and has already seen catering trade drop off significantly in the week, whereas Burton Latimer has held up better with a younger demograhic."


James Ducker at Langlands said: "Trade has been pretty normal over the weekend. The Farm Shop has been really busy and people are spending as usual in the Garden Centre and Coffee Shops."


At GCA Garden Centre of the Year, Fron Goch, Justin Williams says: "The situation seems very fluid with public opinion changing quickly. We are seeing the supermarkets being very very busy with people stocking up at the moment.


"Last week we did manage to match last year. But yesterday the restaurant was approx 25% down on transaction numbers against last weekend and it looks like today could be between 40-50% down transaction numbers wise in the restaurant against last year."


It was a different picture at Poplars in Toddington where Alastair Jackson commented: "Our restaurant was busy this weekend and footfall in general was excellent but lots of those people were just browsing or whiling away time. I think its all this talk of a possible lockdown.  People want to get out while they think they still can!"


Across the big groups, Blue Diamond's Alan Roper said: "I was concerned because it felt quiet in the centres especially on budget day. However I've had some numbers in for Monday to Friday for some of the sites and they are up."


British Garden Centres said they had a slow start yesterday morning but the day picked up well by lunchtime and at Dobbies, CEO Graeme Jenkins has reported: "Trade has been very good, with strong like-for-likes across plants, gardening, food hall and pet categories in particular."


In Scotland, Colin Barrie of Caulders told GTN Xtra: "We are concerned as the current situation develops.  The last 3 days have seen a noticeable decline in our coffee shops, yesterday was around 30% down on expected revenue. That said, the weather has also been against us in Scotland.


"I think over the coming days we will see older people staying at home as the fear factor and self isolation set in. The garden centre side of the business never gets going in Scotland until the second half of March so it’s difficult to judge where the effect on this is at present.


"Without being too pessimistic, I think this will be our most difficult season ahead in our 21 years in business..... hopefully the government will support independent businesses and allow them to survive it!"


Meanwhile at Groves in Bridport, Charlie Grove (pictured above) has found stocks of Christmas loo rolls which they have put out on sale to help alleviate that shortage and give customers some light relief too.  "Look what we found in the stockroom to bring out to the shop! Loads of (Christmas) loo roll!" he says on their Facebook page.


"Perfect for cheering up your bathroom in an emergency!


"Don’t forget you can always phone through orders for local delivery if you find you can't get out so you can stay fully stocked with all of your gardening and pet needs.


"Take care everyone."

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