Harden garden centre boss backs changes to Sunday trading laws

A harden garden centre boss has backed proposals to exempt such stores from the current Sunday trading laws.

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) is calling on the government to remove garden centres from the “outdated” 1994 Sunday Trading Act.

The group claims some of the regulations contained in the 20-year-old Act are outdated, adding garden centres are covered by the Act purely due to their need to be a large size, a necessity to display their live products.

The HTA also claims as gardening is a hobby activity for families, the current trading laws which affect garden centres are restrictive to this pursuit, calling the law an “unnecessary regulatory burden on their enjoyment.”
Garden centres play important roles as leisure destinations for families and hobby gardeners, supporting 20 million people throughout the UK who enjoy gardening.

Now, Woodbank Nurseries, based in Harden Road, has joined these calls for an increase in trading hours, on what they say is their busiest day of the week.

Woodbank Nurseries’ current Sunday opening hours sees them open the site to customers at 9.30am, with the tills open for business from 10.30am. The shop shuts its doors to customers at 4pm.

“I would give my backing to it. Some people like to come in early and take a look around.

“Ideally, the trading hours for us would be the same as Saturday. Being open between 9am and 5pm on a Sunday would be ideal.

“It’s almost a struggle to get customers out on a Sunday. Extra opening hours would make a difference. “

Raoul Curtis-Machin, head of horticulture at the HTA, said: “The Sunday Trading Act is an anachronism in this day and age, especially with 24 hour internet retail on the rise.

“Gardening is an important and healthy hobby which should be supported by government rather than be affected by unnecessary bureaucratic burden.”

HTA also says the idea that garden centres should be treated the same as large supermarket chains is further compounded by the false belief that garden centres only require staff during shop opening hours.

However, as garden centres are handling live products, staff continue to work to maintain and water the plants and flowers and re-stock shelves, whilst not being allowed to open the tills to willing customers.

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