Haskins has launched its largest Christmas department to date in its West End centre in Southampton.

The popular garden centre group anticipates welcoming 1 million visitors to its four centres across a three month lead up to Christmas. The West End centre is already experiencing a higher number of visitors drawn to its extended Christmas department in comparison to previous years’ figures.

The West End centre has improved its Christmas offering by making it more spacious and extending it to span both sides of the centre’s entrance. The centre uses visual merchandising to clearly separate the Christmas themes so that customers can see all the products and gifts relevant to a specific theme. The West End centre management team is confident the improvements will lead to an enhanced experience for the customer and subsequent customer retention.

Lisa Looker, brand director at Haskins, commented: “We have worked hard to ensure this progression will help put us on the map as a must-visit Christmas destination. Garden centres are becoming the place to visit for Christmas.”

Across all four centres, Christmas gifts, decorations and trees equate to 7.35% of the overall yearly sales (excluding the restaurant). The West End centre made £530,302 during Christmas 2016 and this year is anticipated to take a further 10 per cent in Christmas sales.

Conna Powles, buying director at Haskins, commented: “The West End centre’s Christmas department is much more spacious, allowing for customers to shop at such a busy time of year. The market square theme showcases miniature villages to give a Christmas market feel, so that customers can shop depending on their preferred Christmas theme.”

Conna added: “Christmas is just as much about fashion as it is tradition! We start with looking at all the colours and trends coming up to plan 5 different colour decorating themes. The buying team visited Milan last Christmas for inspiration and to get tips on how to decorate trees in a spectacular way.”

Haskins’ West End centre opened its Christmas department on Wednesday September 27, with Roundstone opening its department on the same date. The Ferndown centre opened its department a day earlier; with the Snowhill centre opening its Christmas department last on Thursday September 28.

Dean Ridley, head of retail operations at Haskins, commented: “The West End centre team has worked really hard to move everything round and get the Christmas department looking its best. We start working behind the scenes on Christmas in December the previous year so we can start to plan themes, choose new products and look at the centre layouts. It truly is a year-round activity!

“Some might say it’s too early to open a Christmas department in September, but we’re finding that more and more people are enjoying visiting early and spreading the cost of Christmas over the course of a few months. Can you ever really have too much Christmas cheer?”

Haskins Garden Centre West End is located in Mansbridge Road, Southampton. Visit www.haskins.co.uk for more information.