Decision to close Scottish garden centres ‘disappointing’
The decision to remove Scottish garden centres from the list of essential retailers, resulting in them being closed from Boxing Day, has been widely criticised.
James Clark, Director of Policy and Communications at the Horticultural Trades Association, said: “The news that Scotland has decided to tighten the definition of what is included as ‘non-essential retail’ to include garden centres is hugely disappointing. Although the new strain of the virus is concerning and clearly something that demands action, we firmly believe garden centres are essential for enabling better mental and physical wellbeing for people who are trying to manage the impact of restrictions on daily life.
“There is little to no evidence that garden centres are a covid transmission risk - in fact they provide large and airy environments, which have been enhanced by the introduction of first-class, tailored social distancing measures - and should be able to stay open. Allowing ‘click and collect’ services provides only the barest of business needs – we know from the last lockdown that only 15-20% of sales were achieved in this way.
“For Scottish retailers and growers - whose route to market depends on garden centres - going into the key Spring season on the back of a long lockdown period will be hugely damaging to their businesses. Growers are putting planting plans into operation now. We need the Scottish Government to recognise this and take the appropriate action to help safeguard the future of our industry. We will be seeking meetings with Ministers urgently, with a view to getting garden centres open as soon as possible in the new year.”
The Scottish Retail Consortium said shops have taken “every mitigation possible to keep customers and staff as safe as possible.”