UK’s garden centres hope sunshine and Chelsea flower show will help them rebound from the rain

A cold, damp spring depressed plant sales in the UK, but help is at hand from the ‘Glastonbury festival of the gardening world’

The sixth-wettest April on record has not been kind to Britain’s gardens or its 1,600 garden centres.So far this year, with most of the key selling season over, garden centre sales are up just 2% on last year and down 11% on 2022, after the sodden spring depressed sales of shrubs, trees, bedding plants and seeds.

Strong sales of tea and cake in cafes and of food in farm shops helped keep many garden centres going through the gloomy weather, while houseplant sales continue to rise after an Instagram-led boom in interest during the pandemic. But now the industry is hoping sales will blossom as the Chelsea flower show heralds a belated reboot of the horticultural calendar.

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) says it is “all to play for”, as almost a quarter of sales of plants, seeds and bulbs were rung up in May last year when gardeners made the most of the two bank holidays. Sales of barbecues and garden furniture are only just kicking off and the industry has its fingers crossed that good weather is on the way to help boost sales.

“It’s been a slow start to the year,” says David Denny, director of research at the HTA. “An early Easter is never good for trade, but in the last week or so, with the sunshine coming out, there has been a bit of an uptick. There is pent-up demand and it is by no means too late for people to want to get out in their gardens. We are hoping to see demand piqued by Chelsea.”


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