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GCA members report increased Easter footfall but below average sales

People were not put off visiting garden centres during the Easter weekend despite the cold weather according to the Garden Centre Association (GCA).

Most members saw increased footfall as compared to Easter 2012 and catering and gift sales were up, however many visitors weren’t purchasing gardening products.

Peter Burks, Chairman of the GCA, explained, “The Easter weekend is a key time in the gardening calendar and so we were all hoping for some good weather during the weekend. Thankfully the sun put in an appearance so it wasn’t all doom and gloom.

“There were plenty of people visiting our member garden centres during Easter but the cold weather appeared to have put people off going out in their gardens as most had come in for a wander round, a cuppa in the restaurant or to pick up a gift. Unfortunately, overall sales were well below what was expected.

“Our members all know that it’s imperative to give customers something to come in for whatever the weather so many also ran Easter-themed events to draw families in.”

Many GCA members also had a petition available during the weekend for customers to sign.

Peter added, “We recently launched a petition calling for Easter trading laws to be relaxed so garden centres can open on Easter Sunday and many of our members had the petitions available during the weekend for their visitors to sign.

“Lots of people mentioned it was the first they had heard of the law and were outraged that they couldn’t come and visit their local garden centre on Easter Sunday if they wanted to.

“Traditionally the Easter weekend is one of the busiest gardening weekends of the year. Easter Sunday trading could be worth 25% of the total sales for the Easter week.”

The GCA represents nearly 200 garden centres nationwide.

Through sharing information and its inspection programme, the GCA helps members to achieve high standards in customer service, plant quality and reliability.

Norma Moore, General Manager of Monkton Elm Garden & Pet Centre near Taunton, said, “We weren’t sure what the weather would be like during the long weekend so we made sure we had plenty going on at the garden centre to attract people, even if they weren’t going to be picking up essential gardening supplies.

“On Easter Saturday we invited families to come and meet some chicks, a turkey, a Richardson’s Ground Squirrel, as well as guinea pigs, lizards, spiders and our pet snake Rex. We also had an array of reptiles, dogs, aquatic crabs and a spiny mouse. These were hugely popular and a great success with all our visitors.

“Youngsters were also able to meet the Easter Bunny and we held a charity treasure hunt in aid of Children’s Hospice South West.

“Our restaurant was busy during the weekend and we had lots of visitors that braved the cold to bring their children along to take part in our activities.”

Source : Garden & Hardware News
www.diyretailer.co.uk/index.php/news/item/268-easter-chill-didn’t-leave-garden-centres-out-in-the-cold

02 April 2013
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