Safe trading guide for garden centres launched ahead of re-open plan

A social distancing and trading guide has been launched to help protect workers and green-fingered enthusiasts when garden centres re-open.

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has produced the safe trading guide for garden centres which includes advice on products to be sold, customer numbers in stores, entrance and exit protocols and queueing and checkout procedures.

It is part of the HTA’s campaign to reopen garden centres and they have also produced accompanying signage that can be downloaded from their website to support the implementation of social distancing measures. These resources are available for HTA and non-members alike, given the importance of this issue to the country.

The guidance document, which aims to ensure all garden centres open in a safe manner for staff and customers alike – should the Government formally announce a relaxation – has been informed by leading HTA retailers, the British Retail Consortium, and the relevant government guidance as a recommendation of best practice regarding social distancing.

It advises that products for sale are restricted to plants, seeds, bulbs, composts and growing media, pots and planters, garden hardware such as tools, propagation equipment, fertilisers and pest control along with items directly associated with these such as pet foods and accessories, food products and cookware.

No giftware, homeware, clothing, garden furniture or large BBQs and similar items are to be sold on site with stores being encouraged to sell these products online instead. Cafes or restaurants are not allowed to open under the guidelines.

HTA chairman, James Barnes, said: “We have been highlighting the unique plight of the UK grower sector and the need for direct government assistance given the inapplicability of the current financial aid schemes. Opening garden centres will not only help open sales outlets but will assist the mental health and well-being of so many people isolating at home and the importance of having something to do at home keeps you at home.

“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. Similar to supermarkets, most garden centres are well placed to adhere to strict social distancing measures due to their size and spacious facilities including outdoor areas. 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 extremely unsettling times.”

The HTA is asking all members to agree to adhere to the guidelines before they re-open their businesses. The sign-up process will be managed via the plantsnearme website – plantsnearme.hta.org.uk – where consumers will also be able to see which businesses are following the advice.

In addition, the HTA will be seeking support from government to encourage the wider industry to implement the same guidelines which supports the work that the trade body is doing with Government to ensure garden centres are reopened as part of the first relaxation of lockdown.

The document is available for all retail businesses to download here.