Garden Centres to stay open during 2nd English lockdown

Government Guidelines

From Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December all non-essential retail must close.

Only essential retailers such as food shops, supermarkets, garden centres and certain other retailers providing essential goods and services can remain open. They should follow COVID-secure guidelines to protect customers, visitors and workers.

Playgrounds can also remain open.

Hospitality venues like restaurants, bars and pubs must close, but can still provide takeaway and delivery services. However, takeaway of alcohol will not be allowed.

A huge relief

James Clark, Director of Policy and Communications at the HTA said, “This announcement to keep garden centres open in England during lockdown is a huge relief and very welcome for members – not only garden centres, but for those in the supply chain.

“We have been making the case to the Government in England in the last few months and of course today on why garden centres should be classified as ‘essential’ retail in lockdown. Credit to those in Government for this massively significant decision.

“Garden centres offer … one of the safest retail environments. It’s important for garden centres to continue to reassert the exemplar social distancing and safe trading measures they have put in place.

"Garden centres staying open will benefit everyone across the country bringing much needed mental and physical benefits as people have to stay at home."

England and Scotland but not Wales

This announcement, alongside a similar decision in Scotland on Friday, will support HTA efforts in Wales to make sure garden centres are listed as ‘essential’ for any future lockdown decisions there.

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Here's what others have said...
Caroline Roles,  4 Jan 2021:
...I work in as a plant advisor in a garden center. Before and since christmas I have been working inside in the christmas department and on the till.The reason being no one has gone outside to plants or buy compost they have just been hanging around inside just as they would in next or debenhams if they had been open to pass the time of day or try to find a reduced christmas item . Mean while the covid rates are going up and up . Three cheers for the NHS who are dealing with people with covid and three cheers for all the shop workers having to deal with them as well
STEVE,  22 Nov 2020:
...I run a small plant based Nursery and yes we have gifts and a little amount of Christmas but our sales are coming from gardeners who are gardening, we don't all hibernate in the Autumn! Folk are buying bulbs, bedding, compost, shrubs & pots, also propagation items & seeds. As for Christmas we see and hear that a lot of folk want something from this year, the uncertainty of jobs, no holidays, unable to visit friends & family and so Christmas is the one thing they are holding on to and starting very early, they want it to last for weeks! Why moan about garden centres being open and selling whatever, how about focusing on the big change on the high street, how many of you have used Amazon to buy items that are not essential?? Customers attitude is changing as the under 50's embrace the 'I want it now!' approach and are happy to buy without the touchy feely experience of seeing the product before they buy! Amazon are out to kill the high street, they pay little or no tax but if you have seen their TV ads. then they are making out they are 'down with the kids' in their approach to saving the world - see 100,000 electric vehicles! Retailers, big & small, are going to have to change the way they operate, customer service is king, prices are not, you need to be John Lewis standard and some!
Scotland Gardener,  17 Nov 2020:
...Well Scotland's turn now !!!!!! I will be asking every customer if the item they purchase is essential since Iam being forced to risk my life with underlying health issues so they can buy some rubbish they probably don't need.
A person,  9 Nov 2020:
...On reading the other comments I have my own opinion. In relation to garden centres selling Xmas lines,clothing etc, this is something garden centres do every year so where is the issue? Supermarkets sell decorations and clothing but that is ok
Amanda,  8 Nov 2020:
...I'm amazed at how many people have visited a garden centre over the last few days and are now complaining that they are open citing non essential products being bought. My question to them would be; if you are so concerned with people in these places buying non essentials touching products and generally idling their time away, what are they doing there? People are very good at pointing fingers at other people. I for one am glad garden centres are open. I despair at all the businesses that are having to close after such a hard year.
Mark,  7 Nov 2020:
...We are a small card and gift retailer in a small market town.we have a shop with thousands of Christmas cards and numerous gifts ordered for Christmas.we are surrounded by 3garden centres all allowed to sell their stock, by the time we are allowed to open everybody will have purchased the cards and gifts from garden centres.people are being told to stay at home only essential journeys there is nothing essential at this time of year at a garden centre.Another nail in the coffin of your local high street!!!!
T24,  6 Nov 2020:
...Whilst I feel on one hand happy that garden centres are allowed to stay open for peoples well being I also feel extremely angry on the other hand.... I live not far from a local family garden centre that take every opportunity to make money, is this the right time through a pandemic to put money first again above health opening from 9am-9pm??? I totally understand they sell food so why not be open but we all know at this time of year usually all plants are stripped from the outside area to allow for the ice rink, so will there be plants there this year? Also each year at this time it’s crammed full of families looking at their Christmas display, how can Christmas items be classed as essential, or maybe these areas are closed off- I guess not! 😡 Rant over
Jill,  6 Nov 2020:
...Some interesting and mixed reactions to this topic.Firstly,congratulations to the HTA/GCA(especially Boyd Douglas-Davies) for lobbying the uk government in allowing garden centres to remain open during the second lockdown.I work for a large national garden centre chain and am pleased about being allowed to continue working.Yes it’s debatable as to how much “garden centre”product is deemed to be essential at this time.Definitely Plants, tools and associated gardening sundries,etc,however I have to agree with the comments regarding Christmas decorations and artificial trees...not quite so fair on the smaller business that have been forced to shut.As to social distancing,mask wearing and the like it would appear that you can’t educate everyone.Anyway,stay safe,keep calm and carry on as best you can!!
Barry,  5 Nov 2020:
...We are a small retailer selling garden products and related gifts.We are not allowed to sell while the garden centres can grab our trade.MPs PLEASE EXPLAIN?
David Jenkins,  5 Nov 2020:
...As the second lockdown takes hold, we must celebrate the fact that garden centres have been deemed essential. The incredible lobbying of The HTA has meant that our sector took centre stage within the national press and helped to bring gardening to the fore of millions of new and established gardeners; gardeners which are helping to keep our sector booming during such unprecedented times. This lobbying effort also means that as the country is plunged into another lockdown, our sector is able to continue to demonstrate its best in class approach to Covid-Secure retailing, whilst continuing to provide consumers with access to products that help to make life in lockdown more enjoyable.

Garden centres staying open also means that as a sector we are continuing to optimise pre-Christmas sales, and are avoiding the inevitable influx of customers that will come once lockdown is lifted. With more time at our disposal, garden centre customers can spread their shopping over many weeks, helping to minimise the amount of customers in-store at one time and therefore making the enforcement of social distancing much easier to achieve.

I think it is highly commendable how garden retailers have adapted to this ‘new normal’ and continued to demonstrate why we should stay open during this second lockdown. I have seen many examples of garden retailers going above and beyond to ensue that customers feel confident and relaxed shopping in-store. From increased aisle widths, traffic light systems highlighting the busiest/quietest time to shop, one-way systems and increased sanitisation, we really should be proud of what we have achieved.

Neil,  5 Nov 2020:
...Sad to see so many negative comments especially from people employed by Garden Centres! Perhaps these employees would be better working outside the industry, they should be rejoicing in having an income! Congratulations Boris on allowing the opening, it is very good for the mental welfare of customers in these difficult times. Yes it is sad for those who are forced to close, but if nothing is done we will have no customers.
Vicky,  5 Nov 2020:
...I work in a garden centre and I am angry that we will be open over this period.... even before this lockdown our Christmas area’s we’re starting to get rammed and the outdoor plant area’s nearly empty...we sell books, clothing, cooking items and general gifts, which bit of this is essential? Oh and children’s toys that parents happily watch their children play with the toys, I am gob smacked they allow them to do this....the stupidity of some people? If we were busy before this we will be even more busy as people will want to get out ! Strange times indeed as I hate the thought of being stuck home but I’d rather do that then seeing the virus spread.
Leoni,  4 Nov 2020:
...I work at a garden centre an I cannot believe that they class them as essential, we are in a lock down so that means only essential shopping which I'm sorry I think going an buying a plant or other garden items isn't, we are trying to stop the spread an by continuing to keep stores like this open it's not going to work, it should be click an collect only.
Yasmin,  4 Nov 2020:
...I own a small gift shop and feel that garden centres should only sell garden related products during lock down. I have written to my MP and the house of commons about this matter. My local garden centre is staying open until 9pm each evening ££££. Maybe someone could start up a petition. I'm not sure how you go about that , but I have 4 weeks on my hands now so maybe I'll work on it.
Chris,  4 Nov 2020:
...What short memories we all have, on March 21st the beginning of the first Lockdown everyone was up in arms that the Garden Centres were forced to close as it was rightly deemed an essential service to provide a top range choice of plants , seeds , compost and gardening products to keep the countries gardeners enjoying their favourite pastime and to keep their physical and mental well being in tact . When I first joined the Garden Centre Industry, Garden Centres and Nurseries were the only large retailers allowed to open on a Sunday by the Government for exactly these reasons . It is now only right that Garden Centres should be allowed to remain open and serve their customers in a safe and pleasant environment . Especially having lost a huge amount of Compost and Bedding plant sales in the Lockdown period to the Supermarket chains . While still having to employ staff to care for their plants while closed . True there are a lot of Christmas products on offer . These displays are second to none and bring a lot of pleasure to customers coming through their doors . Garden Centres have had to evolve and is now an industry showing the way to established high street retailers , in a relatively short period of time . Support your local Garden Centre’s through this tough time and they will be there for you in the Spring welcoming you with open arms with another array of tempting products
Lucy,  4 Nov 2020:
...I can understand why garden centres were the first to open in the spring and summer but I cannot see why it is essential in autumn/winter when they are selling mainly artificial trees, decorations, toys, clothes etc which other retailers who normally sell these items are forced to shut. People should not be encouraged to go out to look at decorations and browse Christmas goods. This is crazy in a pandemic.
Julie,  4 Nov 2020:
...I think it should be garden nurseries there are so many garden centres that are like department stores selling mostly xmas decorations this time of year should we be encouraging people to shop instead of staying safe at home.
Byron,  4 Nov 2020:
...I visited Haskins yesterday. It was a profusion of everything except plants. Clothing Xmas Trees Greeting Cards etc etc. Hardly playing the game.
Gardenncentre,  3 Nov 2020:
...I went to my local garden centre in Worksop and they are selling fake Xmas trees and decorations smelly candles lights very few plants and a big gift section hand bags etc I think it’s disgusting smaller shops are selling the same products as them or slightly different are being forced to shut and they are hiking there prices up to cash in on the lockdown Surly this is making it so people travel from very high area of infection to lower infected areas this will not help the country get back to the way it was And the garden centre in question there was no way social distancing was being practiced there people every where the hand sanitizer station out side bottle was empty and the roll of tissue was wet no use for anything and I will not being back there again The smaller shops will shut while big places get away with murder Boris Johnson you be ashamed of your self and probably will go down as the priminster that killed to many of the British people Garden centres should be shut just like the smaller retailers
Allie,  3 Nov 2020:
...What happened to lockdown - opening garden centres will only encourage people to get our of their homes and into these buildings. What rules are they allowed to open under, what goods are exempt/not to be sold as non-essential, how many shoppers allowed in at one time - hope someone will clarify so that the staff can be kept safe.
Mick,  3 Nov 2020:
...We are a small retailer that’s sells outdoor garden ornaments planters with & without the plants in. 90% of our range is outdoor garden related bird feeders. What are we classed as ?
Jackie,  3 Nov 2020:
...I work in a garden centre and am delighted we can stay open. Good for mental health, good for everyone. And if masks are effective as the government makes ouț there is no problem. Any way if you cant come ouț and enjoy all the garden centre has to offer you might as well give up. I'd much rather work than sit at home. Be positive and stop being taken in by Project fear!
R.T.Fishall,  3 Nov 2020:
...Most people visiting garden centres will be of an age to be sensible and obey the rules. Pubs and night clubs are not likely to be on their priority list!
Rich Staley,  3 Nov 2020:
...How ridiculous. Since when have garden centres been essential. They close Tennis down when singles can be played as your 20 metres apart at all times , and the exercise is beneficial. They stop golf which can be 2 people walking , and yet the see fit to open garden centres. Boris , you have got his totally wrong. Revisit this or look like a fool .
Darren,  3 Nov 2020:
...Wow, loads of comments on this thread and many very negative. Garden Centres have been praised for their exemplary Covid safe procedures, including spacious workable one way systems, Perspex screening at tills, and sanitising trolleys (which the supermarkets have stopped doing). It is vital for everyone's mental health that consumers have an outlet to buy things they need for Christmas. I'm sorry that any small independent gift shop has to close, but we do need some sort of normality. Personally I think we should lock down the vunerable and let the rest of us get on with it.
Carol,  3 Nov 2020:
...I am very grateful for garden centres remaining open although I am surprised. However anything that reduces the impact on jobs and the economy has to be good if it's safe. So many supermarkets and other large outlets sell the same lines as garden centres but it would be difficult to police if one could open but the other couldn't. Let's face it, footfall at garden centres is rarely as busy as supermarkets so them staying open for a month is not going to have a huge impact. Let's all be careful, don't go out if you are vulnerable, observe social distancing and wear a mask. We are heading for a long period of deep austerity let's not make it worse than it has to be.
Holly,  3 Nov 2020:
...I cannot believe that garden centres are deemed essential. They are categorically one of the least essential of shops in winter. What about gyms that are being forced to close, but are the best places I have experienced good social distancing and cleanliness? What about theatres, restaurants and gift shops who's survival depends on Christmas? I am not saying they should be allowed to be open but one rule is for everyone no exceptions.
Malcolm,  3 Nov 2020:
...Garden Centres near me certainly keep customers socially distancing and as most of their retail space is outdoors they are safer to shop in than supermarkets, bookshops etc.
Shelby,  3 Nov 2020:
...I work at a garden centre. So im continuing to work so others can feel better mentally? And my anxiety about being around people, and my mental health? No such thing as an ESSENTIAL garden centre visit. What utter nonsense.
Amanda,  3 Nov 2020:
...My garden has been my saviour throughout these strange times. Buying plants gives me great pleasure . Am now working with my gardener to create a new japenese garden area. We can only do this if garden centres stay open. Thank you all in that trade. 🥰
James,  2 Nov 2020:
...It’s absolutely amazing that a purchase from a garden centre in deemed essential! What an absolute disgrace. The average age of the customer is over 60 and it’s now ok to browse and dordle around a Garden Centre to make purchases of Christmas decorations and scented candles. Shame on any Garden centre that opens and I for one will never visit one that does open during the LOCKDOWN.
Emma,  2 Nov 2020:
...Disgraceful. It’s November! Just no way they are any more essential than many other places that will have to close.
Gardening girl,  2 Nov 2020:
...In the spring I understand garden centres should have been classed as essential but at this time of year they mostly sell gifts and Christmas items. Real Christmas trees are mostly sold in Dec so it's unfair to other shops that they are classed as essential at this time.
Sam,  2 Nov 2020:
...I run an independent bookshop with my husband. We sell cards gifts and toys along with both new and second hand books. We're classed as non essential and will be forced to close our doors, yet supermarkets and garden centres on our doorstep will be selling cards, books toys and unfair is that, our shop is spacious, well set out , Covid safe and 2 doors for separate entry and exit into the building, it's beyond maddening when we have adhered to all the rules and regulations
Unfair to small gift shops,  2 Nov 2020:
...This is simply not fair to the small gift shops who have only recently reopened and have now stocked ready for Christmas. Garden Centres stay open, the small shops must close. Morally unacceptable and shameful.
Susie,  2 Nov 2020:
...Totally unfair , why can they sell gifts ,Christmas decorations , candle ? Independents on small high streets have to close with same stock .Should only be allowed to sell plants and horticulture if that ,are not essential, Needs to be a fair playing field for all
Maureen,  2 Nov 2020:
...I think its unfair to let the garden centre to be able to sell non essential items, its unfair on the little shops that are made to close. Also I thought you could only leave home for essential shopping ,
Julie,  2 Nov 2020:
...Have you heard yourselves. These comments are disgusting. Nothing should be shutting. Closing and losing business for what? less than 1 percent of the population that will still probably die anyway.
Lynda Ballard,  2 Nov 2020:
...The negative peoples comments on here obviously didn't visit a garden centre in the first lockdown as it was a perfectly safe experience.
M Smyth,  2 Nov 2020:
...I agree with many here that Garden Centres should not be allowed to open, or otherwise be restricted to just the essentials. Firstly for the staff, of which I am one, being exposed to so many more careless customers who come for some retail therapy, now bottlenecked because of other stores being closed, and caring nothing for social distancing - many pulling down their masks in order to speak to you! Secondly because it is totally unfair on those stores that cannot open - why should garden centres be able to capitalise on Christmas stock when others are closed? The complete BS put out by the HTA - who care naught for the staff and only the owners - about airy garden centres (outdoor areas deserted this time of year, with indoor aisles half the width of a supermarkets), essential horticultural products for wellbeing (in November?). Whatever garden centre companies may say about taking covid seriously and caring about the staff, it all pales in comparison to the chance to cash in.
Louise,  2 Nov 2020:
...This is shameful. At this time of year garden centres sell mostly Christmas items and many are more like department stores. How can this be justified when the public is being told to stay in. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Shame on the garden centres that open at this time under the guise of essential.
Vintage Angel Home And Gift,  2 Nov 2020:
...I have no problem with garden centres opening to sell plants but it is totally unfair if they can sell gifts and Christmas decorations. I have several thousand pounds worth of stock that I now won’t be able to sell and if people can buy from garden centres will they still need to buy it from me when I can open. Should people be leaving their home anyway to buy these items from them. If it’s ok to do this why can’t gift shops open then.
Pjc,  2 Nov 2020:
...Please tell me why they can stay open, so people can buy Christmas tat, very essential, not like you can do much gardening or sit out in this weather I work in a concession in a gc, who sells essential outdoor clothing, which is essential as kids are at school or a fleece for an elderly person who may need to keep warm Makes no sense
David,  2 Nov 2020:
...I totally agree with most of the comments about garden centers being allowed to open we have a small retail gift shop which relies on the Christmas trade, how can they justify closing the small shops down and allowing garden centers and the likes of the Range B & Q and B & M to remain open I think that the muppets are now in charge
Jen,  2 Nov 2020:
...I agree garden centres shoud only be open for sale of plants, gardening items and - if sold - pet food. Totally unfair on other retailers otherwise and encourages leaving the home for a non-essential shopping outing. This lockdown won't work if people don't limit their activities. Beastly but true. Then we're all stuck with it for longer.
Stuart12,  2 Nov 2020:
...How can staying open be benifishal ?people are going to flock to garden centres and spread the disease ! How can this be good for the country let alone the staff? ?
LAJ,  2 Nov 2020:
...Garden centres are not now just selling plants and other garden sundries, contrary it would seem to naive belief. The majority of goods these garden centres sell are unrelated to the great outdoors with floor space given over to a variety of sundry goods. To say they are essential as such is completely inaccurate. All that will happen is that high street shoppers will now gravitate to these so called garden centres - meaning continued opportunity for this disease to thrive and put garden centre workers and their families at increased risk from increased customer influx.
Mrst,  2 Nov 2020:
...I work in a garden centre and im not happy to be forced to sell non essential clothing to people because the garden centre is open when clothes shop are closing is this even legal
Confused,  2 Nov 2020:
...Well well well . You only have to read the comments here to see the backlash this has created! Garden Centres have had a good year overall and much better than many other retail sectors! The public are being told to only make essential journeys. How can a visit to buy tinsel and a poinsettia be in any way shape or form an “essential journey”.
Rick,  2 Nov 2020:
...I have work in the garden centre industry for a number of years. Staying open will help garden centre businesses stay viable, our centre sells large volumns of animal feeds as well as having a large food hall. If you shut garden centres then you need to seriously consider banning The Range, B&Q, B&M etc and all the large supermarkets from selling garden related products, plants, fertilizers,giftware, xmas decorations and xmas trees. It was obvious during the last lockdown all of a sudden the essential food retailers that stayed open suddenly had trollies of plants outside the front doors.
Stephen,  2 Nov 2020:
...I find this disgraceful. There is nothing in a garden centre that is essential. They are mainly full of Christmas decorations this time of year but small independent shops are not allowed to sell them.! It’s a totally unfair playing field. If they stay open all they should sell is plants.!
Josie,  2 Nov 2020:
...If garden centres stay open they should only be allowed to sell plants, composts, tools etc. Why should they be able to buy gifts and Christmas stuff which is nothing to do with gardening anyway and just gives people an excuse to go out! People don't social distance and don't wear masks - it's not fair on the staff, putting them in danger but the bosses don't care as long as they make money!!
Robert,  2 Nov 2020:
...It's a very positive move, the greatest area at garden centres is outdoors so minimal risk as opposed to confined areas in other types of retail. In my experience customer do obey the social distancing rules.
STEVE,  2 Nov 2020:
...Garden centres & Nurseries are essential as they have bought much relief to thousands of people who would have been stuck indoors going stir crazy, if you work in a garden centre be pleased that you have work, if you don't like the work environment you are in perhaps stay at home and go stir crazy!?
Beckenham bloomer,  2 Nov 2020:
...I have been to many garden centres since 1st lockdown lifted. Impressed with the way they have been organised. Being retired I go mainly during the week (my daughter forbids me to go at weekends to allow room for younger people like her who can only go at weekends) when most customers are of my generation. I think they are all pretty clued up re social distancing and practice it better than you see at many other retail outlets. Obviously you are always going to get people who insist on standing right behind you when queuing in any setting. And they can be of any age. If you look into any of the pubs and restaurants near me on a weekend evening you can see many people practicing the ‘social’ very well but not so much the ‘distancing’. And there aren’t many over 35s amongst them.
Debra Kannair,  2 Nov 2020:
...We are a small retailer in Surrey having been trading for 45 years, well before garden centres sold Christmas decorations.Christmas is huge for us and always have to compete with garden centres. How can it be fair that they can stay open?
curious,  2 Nov 2020:
...I'm trying to understand how it will work because although garden centres will be open, the general public will not be allowed to visit them, as visiting a garden centre doesn't come under the list of things we can leave our homes for. So is it just for people who make their living as gardeners or landscapers etc? (That does make sense.)
Mandy Johns,  2 Nov 2020:
...Why do I have to close my independent gift shop losing all my Christmas sales when garden centres can stay open? Are they still allowed to sell non essential gift stock? Extremely unfair if they are!!
Robbie,  2 Nov 2020:
...I totally agree that garden centres are not essential and neither is B&Q They should only have the trade point entry open and trades people only should be admitted its a joke
sandwich generation,  2 Nov 2020:
...Our local garden centre insists on everyone wearing masks outdoors as well as indoors. It is fairly large and so crowding isn't usually an issue and anyone moving too close is usually told to move away by other customers. There is a one-way system and hand gel is available at the entrance and exit.
Josie,  1 Nov 2020:
...How on earth are garden centres classed as essential??!!
Mark,  1 Nov 2020:
...I work in a garden centre but I disagree that we should open, its not essential and the staff are always going to be at risk, opening just for someone's well being and an excuse to get out is so unfair on employees, do we have a choice - no!
John,  1 Nov 2020:
...I work in a garden center and 80% of our customers are over 65 and don't socially distance. Its a breeding ground for covid good way to get rid of the older generation. They have been rammed in today without a care in the world!!

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