Conservative MP Ian Liddell-Grainger is calling on the Government to approve the re-opening of garden centres as a matter of urgency.
He says millions of people are now turning to gardening for the first time to help them through lockdown – but currently cannot buy the seeds, plants and material they need.
Some DIY stores which have reopened do offer a limited range of gardening items and Mr Liddell-Grainger, Conservative member for Bridgwater and West Somerset, said as long as social distancing rules were applied and observed there was no reason why garden centres should not open their doors once again.
“If you analyse the risks they are no greater than going to a supermarket. In fact they are probably lower given that the vast majority of the goods that people will want to buy are kept outside,” he said.
Garden centre owners face losses running into many millions as a result of being left with unsold stock, including bedding plants, and being forced to close during the most lucrative trading quarter of the year.
But Mr Liddell-Grainger said it was still not too late to salvage part of the main gardening season.
“I am quite aware of the need to keep restricting unnecessary journeys at the moment,” he said.
“But on the other hand there is a very strong case for allowing people to patronise garden centres again. Gardening is a wonderful form of therapy and there is evidence to show that thousands and thousands of people have turned to it, many for the first time, to get them through the dark days of lockdown.
“But many of them cannot get hold of the plants or the equipment or materials they need – and although online buying is a normally an option many online retailers are overwhelmed with orders and just cannot cope.
“On that basis alone - and given that DIY stores are now open - I believe the Government would be quite justified in adding garden centres to the other retail outlets that are already trading more or less normally.”