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Garden Centres Cautiously Re-Open After Tough Times In Lockdown

Published on: 18 May, 2020
Updated on: 20 May, 2020

by Hugh Coakley

Garden centres in Guildford were cautiously welcoming back customers after seven weeks of coronavirus lockdown. The government allowed garden centres to open again from Wednesday (May 13) provided that social distancing rules could be met.

Sutton Green garden centre on the Woking Road has had a slow start after being allowed by the government to open in the coronavirus lockdown.

It was a slow start at the Sutton Green garden centre. The signs outside indicated where customers could queue but, even though there was a steady stream of customers, it was not enough to necessitate queuing.

Staff told The Guildford Dragon NEWS that it hadn’t been very busy since they opened but added: “We will get busy when the weather improves. We are expecting to be really busy this weekend.”

The family-run Clandon Park and Woking Garden centres, were said to be busier. Owner, Lee Wong, said: “We opened the Woking centre last Wednesday. It has been busy and getting busier.

“Our branch at Clandon Park will be ready on Monday (May 18). We are building wood panelled walls there to segregate our customers to keep them safe.”

Clandon Park garden centre is planned to be open to the public on Monday, May 18.

Asked how the lockdown had affected his business, Lee said: “It has been tough. We took over the Wyevale Garden Centre on the Woking Road last summer and it was a bad time to have done it.

“I was angry that we weren’t allowed to do ‘click and collect’. Others had opened up for plant sales if they had a farm shop attached or a DIY, so it wasn’t a level playing field and we have been badly affected.

B& Q had queues but it wasn’t as busy as before the coronavirus lockdown.

All of B&Q stores, where plants and gardening equipment are on sale, were open by April 30. The branch on Ladymead had queues outside on Saturday and a staff member was marshalling shoppers outside, calling to people to observe the two-metre social distancing rules and the one-way system inside the shop. Despite the queues, it was still very quiet with few shoppers attending.

A builder in the queue said that he was spending much of his day queueing for building materials. “Half the trade shops were closed,” he said, “and the others can’t get supplies.”

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