Retailers and garden centres have enjoyed a much-needed boost from what is set to be the hottest early May bank holiday on record, packing the shelves with ice-cream, barbecue food, paddling pools and plants as shoppers got their first real taste of summer.
Asda said sales of paddling pools were up by almost 50% as customers sought ways to keep cool, with its range of novelty gnomes the biggest driver of sales in the garden category.
Waitrose said it has stocked stores for a 200% increase in bank holiday Monday barbecue meats sales and increased orders of rosé wine by 50% compared with the same time last year.
Sainsbury’s was predicting a 600% increase in ice-cream sales compared with the previous weekend, a 300% increase in gin sales, and a 280% increase in potato salad sales.
Sainsbury’s said: “This scorcher of a bank holiday is set to be the first proper barbecue weekend of the year. We’re predicting that our ice-cream, gin and Taste of Summer barbecue staples will be real sizzlers – not to mention suncream flying off the shelves as we all head outdoors to soak up the rays.”
Springboard, which measures customer visits across the UK high streets, shopping centres and retail parks, forecast a 3-4% increase in footfall this bank holiday compared with the same one last year.
DIY retailer B&Q said that each one of its flagship stores are likely to sell well over 100 barbecues, 3,000 bags of compost, 6,000 bedding plants, 150 mowers and 125 fence panels over the weekend.
“At this time of year especially, customers do respond to the weather. We tend to see a change in the type of projects they do,” said Steve Guy, B&Q’s market director for outdoor. We look at the weather forecast for the next 14 days and make trading and stock decisions on a daily basis.”
Wyevale, the largest garden centre group in the UK, said it was benefiting from the weather with a surge in demand for cocktail herbs as people got a thirst for summer classics such as Pimms and mojitos. Sales of moroccan mint are up 62% year-on-year and mint chocolate up 36%.
“It’s no surprise that herbs are the must-have plant of the season; they’re fragrant, look great and are the perfect addition to summer BBQs for both drinks and dining,” said Lilidh Matthews, herb buyer at Wyevale Garden Centres. “They also thrive in small spaces, and are an increasingly popular addition for city balconies and kitchen windowsills alike.”
Diane Wehrle, marketing and insights director at Springboard, said garden and DIY-related goods were likely to fare well because it was the first opportunity for keen gardeners to get out planting and tidying-up after weeks of poor weather.
“Anything related to the garden is likely to do well after such a poor Easter. People will use the opportunity to get out and do work in the garden and in the home. And of course fashion should benefit as people will want to replenish their wardrobe as the first signs of spring and summer emerge.”
Well-stocked smaller convenience stores were expected to be among the bank holiday winners, according to analysts at research firm Kantar Worldpanel
“Whenever the mercury rises people swiftly move away from traditional meals and start focusing on the barbeque,” said Fraser McKevitt, Kantar’s head of retail and consumer insight.
“In the interests of maximising their exposure to the sunshine consumers are also much more likely to shop locally rather than travel longer distances to bigger stores, so the retailers who’ve stocked up on sausages and burgers in their convenience outlets should perform well this weekend.”