Comments in the media give a flavour of the first day back.
Ian Wylie, chief executive of the Garden Centre Association, told the Guardian about a quarter of the UK’s 2000 centres reopened on Wednesday, with the remainder expected to be back up and running by the weekend, once staff are trained in new safety measures.
Alan Roper, managing director of Blue Diamond, said customer behaviour had changed: leisurely browsing had stopped and efficient shopping had replaced it. His comments to the Guardian, “It’s a mission to shop. They are doing a clean sweep and making sure that they get everything on the shopping list.
“I think trade will be good for the next few weeks because of that pent-up latent demand. The issue is going to be securing stock, particularly on the nursery side, where they have been dealt a heavy blow,”
Jolyon Martin of Chessington Garden Centre told the newspaper, “We have written off 30% of annual turnover, even at this stage.” He also told them, “He was pleasantly surprised by the turnout… the store’s main car park was almost full by mid-morning.”
Customers have been looking for plants, compost and other gardening products
Elsewhere, Graeme Jenkins, CEO for Dobbies, said: “We have spent time briefing all our team members on the social distancing measures that have been put in place. This worked well in Swansea…. A number of team members have commented on this being well received by customers.
“Customers have been looking for plants, compost and other gardening products, as they are keen to spend time in their gardens this May.”
Cherry Lane Garden centres reported “Lots of problem troubleshooting done today and lots of challenges to our continued operation to solve but overall a very successful first day back that is really promising for bringing the industry back from brink one day at a time. Well done to all garden centre staff nationwide that reopened today.”
Fairways Garden Centres announced, ‘The customer toilets will NOT be available during this time.’
Whilton Locks Garden Village opened to a queue of keen gardeners. "Great to see… customers taking their time and social distancing around our store’s bigger than ever ‘one way’ system. We have a full and fresh plant offering so thanks to all the great suppliers that have kept stock flowing in. To end the day, a great trading value on the tills!!”
Whitehall Garden Centres will keep Lacock and Whitchurch garden centres closed until they have adequate measures in place until adequate safety measures are in place, probably within a week or so.
Haskins wrote, “There were a couple of queues outside first thing this morning but it was very manageable all day. Extended hours allow for visits to be spread across the day and limit demand at any one time.”
Boyd Douglas-Davies, HTA President said “England and Wales GCs now back open but the growers still need support as they have lost so much of their year in the last few weeks. It's the 80:20 rule... 80% of their sales in 20% of the year.”
Ball Colegrave say, ‘We currently have some excellent plug availability across many plug formats for immediate delivery including both Annuals and First Year Flowering Perennials... We are committed to offer extra seed-raised varieties, ideal for a quick turn crop, to replenish the huge consumer demand for garden colour. These include: Alyssum, Dahlia, Impatiens, Lobelia, Marigold and Petunia.'