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Wyevale forecasts 12 million Christmas customers

Wyevale Garden Centres has launched Christmas 10 weeks away from the big day.

The 141 Wyevale Garden Centres will stock 2.5 million gifts, home and outdoor decorations and hope for 12 million customers up to 25 December.

Wyevale held its first B&Q-style Christmas media preview this summer.

Stock includes 49p novelty children's stocking fillers and £99.99 silver antler candelabras.

There are £1.99 Christmas tree baubles, £399 for a 6'6'' Normandy fir featuring 600 sparkling LED lights in indoor decorations, £29.99 snow-dusted pine cone wreathes adorned with a silvery deer's head and £3,699 limited edition Crystal trees.

About 10 per cent of the Christmas Shop ranges are exclusive and half are new to Wyevale Garden Centres this year.

There is more "extravagant" US-style outdoor Christmas lighting, with native wicker animals such as foxes and deer expected to be more popular this year than polar bears and penguins.

The retailer is also staging hundreds of events nationwide including ice skating, winter wonderlands, Santa's grottos and breakfast or tea with Father Christmas. For adults there are floristry and wreath-making classes and winter menus in the restaurants.

Marketing director Sarah Fuller said: "We think shopping for Christmas should always be enjoyable. At Wyevale Garden Centres, we want to give our customers a little extra bit of Christmas wonder when they visit us - not least through our magical transformation of the centres into winter wonderlands.

"This year we have scheduled our most exciting festive events programme to date and offer a relaxed shopping environment - away from the queues of the high street and expensive parking. Our overall shopper experience is better than ever before with nearly 8,000 Christmas ranges set to be showcased through spectacular displays across all our centres.

"Gifting and outdoor decoration are big growth areas for us this year with real and replica trees a major footfall driver. The trend for outdoor decorations is set to hit an all-time high this year, so we have bought in 28 different types of door wreath, 300 different types of outdoor lights and our range for the first time extends to our stunning £3,699 Crystal outdoor tree for customers who want to make a more dramatic statement in their garden"

Bridgemere centre manager Keith Taylor said: "We are noticing more than ever that our customers are coming to Wyevale Garden Centres for the all-round experience. They don't just want to nip in and nip out with a new bedding plant, they want to meet friends in the restaurant or join in one of our in-centre activities. This is even more prevalent at Christmas when we transform our centres with magical displays and special VIP customer events."

Haskins chief executive Julian Winfield told the recent HTA conference that December sales were now 21 per cent of annual sales, up from 16 per cent in 1995. He said Haskins had dropped Father Christmas and grottoes in recent years, which had proved to be "a good thing".

He said: "Retail in itself is entertainment."

Garden centres are expecting better Christmas sales this year on the back of greater customer experience generally.

Source : Matthew Appleby - Horticulture Week


19 October 2014

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