Safe Trading rules for when garden centres re-open

The HTA has published a Safe Trading Guidance to be signed by all retail members, which limits the number of customers in store, defines the products that can be sold and outlines procedures to be followed.

The document has been written as part of HTA efforts to ensure garden centres re-open as part of the first relaxation of lockdown. It follows discussion with the British Retail Consortium and relevant Government bodies.

The main criteria to maintain customer and staff safety are that: -

  • Cafes / restaurants should remain closed
  • Products to be sold should be restricted to plants; seeds; bulbs; composts /growing media; pots/ planters; garden hardware (tools; propagation equipment; fertilisers; pest control; irrigation etc.) and those products directly associated with the support thereof; pet foods and accessories; food products/cookware
  • No giftware/homeware; clothing; garden furniture; large BBQs to be sold on site. Instead online sales and home delivery are encouraged. Customer access to these areas should be physically restricted
  • Promotion of special deals that lead to a surge in customers are strongly advised against
  • The strong recommendation is that customer numbers be controlled to 1 per 1000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, but operators should use their discretion as to what is safe
  • There should be separate entrances and exits.

All HTA member garden centres will be asked to sign up to the HTA Safe Trading Guidance. The process will be managed via the website, with consumers able to see which businesses are following the guidelines. 

The HTA has also produced signage that can be downloaded.

HTA Chairman, James Barnes, said, “We are doing everything we can to enable garden centres to reopen safely and as soon as possible should the government alter the guidelines for our sector. This new guidance document is integral for all operators to get back to business as safely as they can and gives them the help they need to protect their staff and customers in these unsettling times.”

The full document can be downloaded from this page.

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Here's what others have said...
Adam Taylor, HTA Immediate Past President,  8 May 2020:
...Firstly, there are very good reasons why the "recommendation of best practise" have been published in different forms as our campaign with government has progressed. I am sure it was also read in the document "These restrictions would be lifted as and when other retail restrictions are relaxed". Should anyone need any clarification on the lobbying strategy, please take up the offer of the Chairman of the HTA to explain. Secondly, the HTA is a membership organisation and it is a privilege to be surrounded by years of garden industry experience from each and every sector in all of the decision making including the non-exec Directors. A significant number of hours have been given by many volunteers to campaign for the industry as a whole including non-exec Directors of the HTA and others, many whilst also dealing with the biggest issues horticulture has faced. Finally, the HTA has been working in collaboration with other trade associations such as the GCA and GIMA, as well as key retailers, growers and suppliers. This co-ordinated and unified approach has paid dividends with the extensive media coverage and contact with politicians. If you have not written to your MP, there is still time to add to the call for a Grower Compensation Scheme.
Boyd Douglas-Davies,  7 May 2020:
...Safe to say that the comments have largely come from non HTA members. If they were members they would have received a daily briefing from the HTA and be fully aware of the journey that the industry has taken over the last 7 weeks. Fortunately, the HTA is made up of excellent members of the industry who are willing to give their time for the good of all. I thank them here for everything they have done whilst also running their own business over the last few weeks. Without them the industry would be in a deeper hole than it is now. The good news.... HTA membership is open to all so looks like we have a few potential members. Boyd, HTA President and Garden Centre operator of 36 years.
Daniel,  7 May 2020:
...Unfortunately this is what you get when the HTA directors have no experience of the garden industry.
Gardenforum,  7 May 2020:
...James Barnes, HTA chairman, having read these comments has rung to say that he is happy to speak to anyone and explain the protocols they have drawn up.  He can be contacted through the HTA offices.
Alan,  7 May 2020:
...Yet Tesco are now advertising 50% off sale on their clothing range.
Buyer,  6 May 2020:
...HTA - You need to explain to the trade why supermarkets, DIY and Wilko etc can sell anything they wish including our core categories, yet you have seen fit to ensure we are restricted to low value lines removing furniture, BBQ’s and gifts all heavy commitments for us. Utterly disappointed in the HTA!
Andrew,  6 May 2020:
...The document reads like it's been written by someone from outside the industry rather than inside representing the interests of the industry, clearly the HS of both customers and team are paramount, but was this the best we could do? No gifts fancy goods or you remember the days of no tool sales on a Sunday, how difficult was that to police,
Supplier,  5 May 2020:
..."No giftware/homeware; clothing; garden furniture; large BBQs to be sold on site." As if that's going to happen... What kind of advice is this? Is this what the HTA have said to the Govt to try and speed up the lifting of restrictions? I hope not.
Ryan Austin - Stormafit,  2 May 2020:
...Hi, I can’t believe I’m reading this? If you’re going to open and ensure customer safety why limit to what people can buy? I’ve been to Homebase and they haven’t limited anything. As a clothing only company this is going to to have a detrimental effect on our family run business as well as other businesses. Been a wholesale supplier we also have no access to any grants from the government. I really hope you revise the decision.

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