Gnome limit: British garden centers run out after the blockade of Suez | Gardens


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Garden gnomes and other outdoor furniture are running out due to supply chain issues and the popularity of garden centers in the UK during the lockdown.

Raw materials have become increasingly difficult to find, and the recent blockade of the Suez Canal has also contributed to the national shortage of gnomes.

Ian Byrne, deputy manager of Highfield Garden World in Whitminster, Gloucestershire, said there had been a “massive upturn” in sales of garden gnomes. “We haven’t seen a gnome for six months now, unfortunately,” he said.

Byrne said garden centers have experienced a “boom” and this is causing problems with the availability of many popular items.

He said: “There is no [gnomes]. There is certainly a shortage. This is one thing combined with garden centers being so busy. I looked at some numbers based on March that showed garden centers were 97% more frequented than they were in 2019.

“Every day has been like a holiday. This is good, but it certainly poses problems because it is not only the English garden centers that are booming, it is all over Europe, so it is causing supply problems, ”he said.

Like many garden centers, Byrne reached out to suppliers across Europe and China to help them ship garden gnomes to the UK.

A gnome in a back garden.
Gnomes of all types are rare. Photographie: Robert Maple / Getty / EyeEm

He said: “Raw materials are becoming a bit of a problem and unfortunately gnomes are victims of this scarcity… Gnomes of any type – plastic, stone or concrete – are rare. They’ve been very popular over the past couple of seasons, we’ve seen a massive increase in gnome sales and certainly a different customer base that wants gnomes as well.

Garden Center Association CEO Iain Wylie added, “While garden gnomes aren’t at the top of everyone’s list, gardening has been very popular during the lockdown… and as a result we have had tough times when supply chains were under pressure.

“With goods arriving from overseas, garden centers have been affected by the ship’s blockage in the canal as much as any other industry. Garden furniture, ornaments – including some gnomes – stuck in containers trying to get here.

He added that other produce from the garden had been affected and the centers were “doing everything” to keep supply chains moving.

In the last three months of 2020, home improvement store sales increased 35% while garden center sales rose 8.5%, according to the Office for National Statistics.

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