Can Garden Centres Stay Open in Lockdown? Understanding the Guidelines and Regulations

It’s no secret that lockdowns have caused a lot of confusion and frustration for people across the world. Between figuring out how to work from home and managing children’s homeschooling schedules, it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. But what about garden enthusiasts? For those of us who love nothing more than getting our hands dirty and cultivating beautiful green spaces, the question on everyone’s minds is: can garden centres stay open in lockdown?

Many people are confused about the rules regarding garden centres during a lockdown. With social distancing measures in place and many non-essential businesses closed, it’s difficult to know where garden centres fit in. Some people argue that they are essential, as gardening can provide mental health benefits during an otherwise stressful time. Others believe that they are not essential, and that people should simply wait until the lockdown is over to tend to their gardens. So what’s the answer?

If you’re anything like me, your garden is your happy place. It’s where you go to escape the stresses of day-to-day life and connect with nature. And during these uncertain times, I think we could all use a little more of that. But with the rules around garden centres in flux, it’s hard to know what to do. So let’s explore the facts and figure out once and for all: can garden centres stay open in lockdown?

Government guidelines for garden centres during lockdown

Garden centres in the UK are governed by the government guidelines during the lockdown period. The guidelines issued by the government are aimed at reducing the spread of the virus while allowing the businesses to function, including garden centres. Garden centres have been affected in this pandemic, and they have to follow certain guidelines. The guidelines include:

  • Garden centres can remain open during the lockdown period if they follow the guidelines issued by the government.
  • They are supposed to ensure that their customers follow the social distancing guidelines while shopping at their centres.
  • They should limit the number of people who can enter the garden centre at any given time, depending on the space at the centre.

Garden centres are also encouraged to implement safe practices to keep their employees and customers safe. They are advised to:

  • Provide hand-sanitizing stations at the entrance and exit points.
  • Encourage the wearing of face masks by customers and employees.
  • Place plexiglass barriers at cash registers to protect employees who have to deal with customers.

The government also has advised the garden centres to offer online and delivery services so that customers can buy plants and gardening supplies from home, reducing the risk of the virus spreading. This has proven helpful in many cases where customers do not feel comfortable venturing out into the public spaces.

Garden centre guidelines during lockdown Implementation
Customers follow social distancing guidelines Signs displaying guidelines
Limit number of people who can enter centre at any given time Rope barriers or staff monitoring
Provide hand-sanitizing stations and face masks Station setup near entrance
Plexiglass barriers at cash registers Installation of necessary barriers

Garden centres are an essential part of the horticultural and agricultural industry, providing the general public with a wide range of products and services. The government guidelines are in place to protect both the businesses and their customers. Garden centres must follow the guidelines and use their own initiative to offer additional safety precautions that may better suit their needs.

Essential vs non-essential businesses during lockdown

During lockdowns, governments have had to make the difficult decision of categorizing businesses as either essential or non-essential. Essential businesses are those that provide vital products and services to the community, such as healthcare facilities, supermarkets, and pharmacies. Non-essential businesses, on the other hand, are those that are not considered necessary for the immediate needs of the public.

  • Essential businesses are allowed to remain open during lockdowns because they provide essential goods and services that people need to live. These businesses have strict safety protocols in place to protect both their employees and customers.
  • Non-essential businesses, on the other hand, are required to close during lockdowns to help slow the spread of the virus. These businesses may include shopping centers, clothing stores, and salons.
  • Some non-essential businesses have been able to adapt and continue operating in a limited capacity by moving their operations online or offering delivery services. For example, many restaurants have shifted to offering takeout and delivery services to continue generating revenue while adhering to lockdown restrictions.

However, the categorization of businesses as essential or non-essential can be controversial. For instance, garden centres have been deemed non-essential in some regions during lockdowns, leading to outcry from the industry and consumers. This is because garden centres offer many benefits to the mental and physical well-being of customers, particularly during times of stress and isolation. Additionally, with many people spending more time at home, gardening has become a popular hobby and source of sustenance for some.

To further understand the impact of lockdowns on garden centres and their role as essential or non-essential businesses, we can refer to the following table:

Country Essential vs Non-essential business during lockdown Status of Garden Centres
United Kingdom Non-essential Closed
Canada Varies by province Some open, some closed
Australia Essential Open with restrictions

While garden centres have been categorized as non-essential in some regions, it’s important to note that they provide many benefits beyond simple retail. They offer a connection to nature, a source of food and medicine, and a recreational space for many individuals. As such, it’s essential to reevaluate the categorization of garden centres as non-essential businesses during lockdowns.

Impact of Covid-19 on garden centre sales

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the sales of garden centres. While some garden centres have seen a surge in sales due to the increased interest in gardening and home improvement projects, others have struggled due to lockdown restrictions and reduced foot traffic. Here are some of the key factors that have influenced garden centre sales during the pandemic:

  • Lockdown restrictions: Many garden centres were forced to close their doors during the early stages of the pandemic, which had a significant impact on sales. Even when garden centres were allowed to reopen, they faced reduced foot traffic due to ongoing restrictions on social gatherings and non-essential travel.
  • Increased interest in gardening: Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, many people turned to gardening as a way to stay active, reduce stress, and improve their homes. As a result, some garden centres experienced a surge in demand for plants, seeds, and gardening tools during this time.
  • Shift to online sales: To mitigate the impact of lockdown restrictions, many garden centres have shifted their sales online. This has allowed them to continue reaching customers and generating revenue, even when their physical stores were closed or facing reduced foot traffic.

Strategies for garden centres to adapt to the pandemic

Given the significant impact of the pandemic on garden centre sales, many businesses have had to pivot their strategies to adapt to changing customer needs and market conditions.

One key strategy has been to enhance online sales channels and invest in e-commerce platforms that allow garden centres to sell their products online. This approach has allowed garden centres to reach a wider range of customers and generate sales even during lockdowns and reduced foot traffic.

Garden centres have also had to be creative in their marketing strategies, using social media and other channels to engage with customers and promote their products. This has included offering online tutorials and classes on gardening and home improvement projects, as well as developing targeted email campaigns and digital advertisements.

Impact of Covid-19 on garden centre employment

The pandemic has also had a significant impact on employment in the garden centre industry. As a result of lockdown restrictions and reduced foot traffic, many garden centres have been forced to reduce their staffing levels or furlough employees.

Year Number of employees in the UK garden centre industry
2019 147,000
2020 125,000

According to industry data, the number of employees in the UK garden centre industry fell from 147,000 in 2019 to 125,000 in 2020. This decline reflects the challenges faced by many businesses in the sector, as well as the broader economic impact of the pandemic.

To mitigate the impact on employment, some garden centres have taken steps to retain their staff and support their wellbeing during this time. This has included offering furlough pay, providing flexible working arrangements, and investing in employee training and development.

Strategies for Garden Centres to Operate Safely During Lockdown

Garden centres are essential for providing individuals with access to plants, gardening tools and equipment. In the current pandemic, they have had to adjust their operations to remain open and ensure the safety of their customers and staff. Here are some strategies for garden centres to operate safely during lockdown:

  • Implement strict social distancing measures: Garden centres need to enforce social distancing, ensuring that there is a proper distance of at least 2 meters between customers and staff. A limit on the number of customers allowed inside the garden centre at one time can also be put in place. Customers can also be encouraged to shop alone to limit the number of people in the garden centre at any one time. Staff can also manage this by gently reminding customers to maintain distance from others.
  • Provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Garden centres must ensure their staff have access to PPE, including gloves, masks and hand sanitisers. Signage can be put up to remind customers to wear masks and provide sanitiser stations.
  • Frequent cleaning and sanitation: Garden centres must maintain a high level of cleanliness and hygiene at all times by using appropriate cleaning products and disinfecting high touch surfaces such as trolleys, door handles, and card machines.

Additionally, garden centres can re-think their offerings and operating hours to serve customers safely and efficiently:

  • Click and collect services: Offer online sales and click and collect services, providing a safe and contactless way for customers to get what they need without entering the garden centre.
  • Extended operating hours: Some garden centres can extend their operating hours to reduce the number of customers in-store by offering times outside peak hours to accommodate social distancing.
  • Alternate days for high-risk customers: Offering designated days and shopping slots for elderly and high-risk customers can make them feel safer shopping and ensure that they are less likely to come into contact with other customers.

Safe Product Delivery Options

In addition to these measures, garden centres can offer safe product delivery options to reach customers who may not be able to visit in-person. The following table shows some product delivery options:

Delivery type Description
Home delivery Customers can receive their products right to their doorsteps through delivery services.
Drive-up service Customers can order products online or by phone and pick up their orders without leaving their vehicles.
Curbside pickup Customers can order products online or by phone and pick up their orders outside the garden centre without entering the premises.

By implementing these strategies, garden centres can continue to provide their essential services to customers safely during lockdown periods.

Customer behavior towards garden centres during lockdown

Customers’ behavior towards garden centers during lockdown has been drastically different compared to previous years. With a focus on outdoor activities and general wellbeing, many people turned to their gardens as a place of refuge. As a result, garden centers saw a surge in demand for plants, seeds, and other outdoor equipment, leading to prolonged queuing outside the stores.

  • Online shopping: With social distancing measures in place, customers have been inclined towards online shopping for garden equipment. This has led to a rise in sales of garden products through e-commerce platforms.
  • Focus on self-sufficiency: Many individuals focused on being self-sufficient during the lockdown and turned to gardening as a way to achieve this. This trend was seen across all age groups and genders. Growing vegetables, fruits, and herbs was a popular way for individuals to maintain a healthy regime during the pandemic.
  • Increased interest in gardening: With people spending more time at home, gardening has also emerged as a popular hobby. This new interest has led to a rise in demand for garden tools, fertilizers, and other gardening products. The trend towards growing indoor plants has also increased significantly.

The following table shows how garden centers have adjusted to the changing customer behavior:

Before lockdown During lockdown
Peak shopping times Weekends and bank holidays All days of the week
Queuing time Minimal queuing time Long queues due to social distancing
Online sales Minimal emphasis on online sales Increased online sales

Despite the pandemic, garden centers have continued to survive through this change in customer behavior. By adapting to the new demand for online sales, and by modifying their stores to ensure social distancing, they continue to attract new customers.

Challenges faced by garden centres in maintaining social distancing measures

Garden centres have faced numerous challenges in maintaining social distancing measures during the lockdown. Here are some of the challenges:

  • Space: Garden centres are often sprawling properties, which makes it difficult to control crowds.
  • Crowds: Garden centres are popular with people who want to get out of the house, so they attract large crowds.
  • Product displays: Garden centres typically display their products in a way that encourages people to touch and handle them, which can increase the risk of transmission.
  • Checkout lines: Many garden centres have small checkout areas, which can make it difficult to maintain social distancing in line.
  • Staffing: Garden centres may not have enough staff to manage crowds and enforce social distancing measures.
  • Communication: Communicating the rules and regulations to customers can be challenging, especially when they are distracted by the products on display.
  • Outdoor environment: While being outdoors is generally safer than being indoors, it can be more difficult to control the spread of the virus in open-air environments.

Despite these challenges, many garden centres have been able to adapt and implement creative solutions to maintain social distancing measures. Some have limited the number of customers allowed in the store at one time, while others have implemented one-way systems to control the flow of traffic. Some have also installed plexiglass barriers at checkout counters and other high-traffic areas to protect both customers and staff.


Garden centres face unique challenges in maintaining social distancing measures during the lockdown, but the industry has shown resilience and creativity in adapting to the new normal. By implementing innovative solutions and following best practices, garden centres can continue to provide essential services to their customers while keeping everyone safe.

Can garden centres stay open in lockdown?

Here are 7 FAQs to help clarify the situation:

1. Are garden centres considered essential businesses?

It depends on the specific guidelines set by the government in your area. In some places, garden centres are deemed essential because they supply food-growing materials and equipment. In others, they might not be classified as such.

2. Are garden centres allowed to sell non-essential items during lockdown?

Again, this depends on the local regulations. In some areas, garden centres are permitted to sell items like furniture and decor, while in others, they must focus solely on necessary supplies like seeds and soil.

3. Can I still visit a garden centre during lockdown?

If your local guidelines allow it, visiting a garden centre for essential supplies is usually permitted. However, many centres are transitioning to online shopping and delivery options to reduce the number of in-person visits.

4. Are garden centres taking extra safety precautions during lockdown?

Most garden centres are following strict safety guidelines to protect staff and customers, such as limiting the number of shoppers allowed inside at one time, providing hand sanitizer stations, and requiring masks and social distancing.

5. Can I order plants/flowers online from a garden centre during lockdown?

Yes! Many garden centres are offering online ordering and delivery or curbside pickup services to help customers get the supplies they need while minimizing contact.

6. Are garden centres being financially impacted by lockdowns?

Yes, many garden centres have experienced significant financial losses as a result of lockdowns and reduced in-person shopping. However, some are adapting by offering new services like virtual consultations or expanding online offerings.

7. Will garden centres reopen after lockdown restrictions lift?

Assuming the lockdowns eventually come to an end, most garden centres will likely reopen. However, it’s possible that some may have to make changes to their business model or operations in order to stay afloat.

Thanks for Stopping By!

We hope this article helped answer any questions you had about whether garden centres can stay open during lockdown. Remember to check your local guidelines for the most up-to-date information. Thanks for reading, and be sure to come back soon for more helpful garden-related tips and tricks!