The Coronavirus pandemic brought a lot of our daily lives to a sudden stop, including many garden centres in Cheshire and elsewhere around the UK.
At Bents Garden Centre we worked hard to stay open, in line with government rules on non-essential retail. That meant keeping our Food Hall open for collections and deliveries to feed our valued local customers throughout the first lockdown.
We introduced doorstep deliveries of many of our most popular food lines, as well as car park click-and-collect so customers didn't need to come inside.
A year on from the first days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK has seen several waves, as well as periods of more relaxed restrictions.
Bents have continued to make changes to follow government recommendations, in order to continue serving our local community in a COVID-secure way.
What's changed in-store?
We understand that shopping in-store can be a source of anxiety for some people, so we have continued to sell garden centre products online for collection and delivery.
Our rearranged garden centre shop floor has wider aisles and generally more space so as you move around inside, there should be no need to come close to other shoppers.
The rules on this have changed too - from a minimum of two metres social distance at all times, to 'one metre plus' when wearing a mask or facing in opposite directions.
Bents continue to work hard to keep on top of any such changes, so that we can make sure our garden centre shop and Food Hall give you the room you need no matter what.
At times that has meant limiting the number of customers allowed inside at any one time, which is one reason why you might have seen queues forming as your pass your local garden centre on Warrington Road.
Looking to the future
As we move through the final phases of the pandemic, vaccinations should reduce the risk over the course of 2021, and hopefully that will allow COVID-secure restrictions to be eased in retail environments too.
In the meantime, we will keep in place sensible precautions for as long as necessary, including:
• Designated entrance and exit doors monitored by staff • One-way systems and minimum social distance rules • Frequent cleaning and customer hygiene stations in-store • Maximum occupancy (you may need to queue at busy times) • Buy garden centre products online at the Bents website
We would ask all customers to wear a mask and, if you are exempt, please don't be offended if we ask you to confirm this - it's for the safety of all our customers and employees.
You can also help by shopping alone or in a maximum party size of two people, and planning ahead so that you know the items you want to look at once you're in-store.
We all want this pandemic to end as soon as possible. Until then, we are doing everything we can to keep our customers safe, and we would like to say thank you to everyone who has supported your local garden centre throughout this past year.