Since garden centres were permitted to reopen on May 18, Neil Grant says sales at Ferndale Garden Centre have been so great that they are now in front of May last year. “It's been mad,” he said.
The result is stock shortages. He says “Compost and bedding plants are like gold dust & hardy stock is stuck in a volume / staffing loop delaying the normal speed of delivery.”
Taking a toll on staff
This demand is presenting bedding nurseries with the problem of fulfilling the orders, even if they have the stock.
Hawkesmill Nurseries warns it has very little capacity for delivery still available for this week. “We have a limited [supply] of 1L Herbs, 9cm and 1L Alpines… There is virtually no 9cm herb availability.”
The unprecedented demand has meant one of its best ever weeks at Chapel Cottage Plants, but it has taken a toll on staff.
They are dispatching record orders with 30% of their usual staffing levels due to childcare issues and sickness. With the general lack of seasonal labour throughout the UK, they cannot simply employ extra staff. This has resulted in late nights and some pretty tough working conditions for all involved.
Customers are being told, “We are currently only doing our own selection of looking good stock as we, like many other nurseries, are being bombarded with more orders than usual, so to keep everyone happy and orders going out as quickly as we can, this is what we are offering at the moment.
“We are putting together a good selection on each trolley and you won’t get any double-ups or masses of the same variety.”
All our buffer stock is gone
Country Herbs & Plants says, “Due to these crazy sales and seasonally reducing production, we will end week 22 with far less available than I would like for week 23. All our stock buffer is gone. Please be prepared for no, or an even more severely reduced availability for week 23.
Dispatch the plants, even without labels
The problem was discussed by garden centres in an online panel debate held last week by Glee. Debating plant shortages, Adam Wigglesworth of Ayletts Nurseries, encouraged growers to dispatch the plants they have, even if they have no labels.
Neil Grant explained, “Any stock that arrives is vacuumed up within a day or two.”