Safe Trading

Safe Trading

Thompson’s Safe Trading Guidance

The following document has been informed by leading retailers, the British Retail Consortium, and the relevant government bodies as a recommendation of best practice regarding safe distancing to protect both staff and customers once we re-open garden centres. We strongly recommend that you help us operate safely and follow them.

Safe opening of garden centres

Cafes /restaurants will remain closed.

The products we will be selling will be restricted to plants; seeds; bulbs; composts /growing media; pots/ planters; garden hardware (tools; propagation equipment; fertilisers; pest control; irrigation etc.) and those products directly associated with the support thereof.

We will not be aggressively promoting strong “loss leader” lines via a marketing strategy to try to keep the numbers visiting to a manageable level.

Our Garden centres will be restricted to selling areas (as above) with customer access to other areas prohibited. We will not be opening restroom facilities or the cafes. We will make sure any resting/eating areas are removed or cordoned off.

Aisles will be as wide as possible and free from stock that would impede free flow.

Fire escapes will be clearly kept open even if behind taped off areas. Our strong recommendation is that customer numbers be controlled to 1 per 1000 square feet. For our garden centres this would mean about 30 customer groups per store. We will start with less and build up to this number.

Managers will use their discretion as to what is the safe number of customers to allow in a garden centre considering overall space, aisle widths and number of checkouts.

Customers in store will be limited to this number on a one in one out basis. To achieve this, we will limit the number of customer trollies and insist on every customer using one.

We will have a member of staff controlling this at the entrance door. It might even be necessary to control the number of cars coming into the car park. 

In some areas maintaining a one-way flow is a desirable. Please follow the directions as displayed.


Restricting numbers to the store is a key objective.

  • This can be best achieved by limiting the number of cars accessing your car park.
  • We will ask you to shop with trollies only. This helps social distancing and allows easier cleaning of handles.
  • All trollies returned for reuse will have their handles wiped down.
  • All customers will be offered hand sanitiser on arrival should they not have their own.
  • We will allow a maximum of only two individuals to shop together.

Front door

  • Always keep a 2 meter distance from customers entering.
  • We will ensure that we are taking an accurate count of those coming in/out of the store. By limiting the number of trolley's, we should be able to achieve this.
  • Allow entry and exit on a one in one out basis.
  • We have marked 2 meter intervals away from the door outside the store for customers who wish to queue.
  • Posters will be issued to support this.


Inside the store

  • To enable customers and till operators to maintain as much social distancing as possible, we have made the following changes.
  • We have created a queueing area large enough to accommodate customers and that enables them to keep 2 meter apart, using tape to mark safe intervals on the floor.
  • We are opening alternate tills to give each till operator maximum distance from their colleagues.
  • Minimise customers approaching each till point to a 1:1 ratio.
  • We have Installed “Queue here” point of sale and “Keep 2 meter apart” POS at appropriate points in our centres to create some distance for the till operator.
  • Facilitate the queue from an appropriate distance whilst at the same time encouraging those waiting to maintain 2 meter distances.
  • We have created space around the fixtures and displays that are normally most popular with customers.
  • If our store becomes ‘overcrowded’ and social distancing becomes difficult to achieve, we will restrict the number of customers coming in at the front door.

Till process

  • Customers should be invited forward from the queue 1 by 1 to the till point by the operator who then steps back 2m.
  • Customers should be invited to drop their goods at the till point and step to the front of the till to a clearly defined 2m line.
  • Once the customer has stepped back –the goods should be processed as normal.
  • Once the operator has stepped back 2m from the till the customer can then be invited to pay by card or mobile device.
  • The customer is then asked to step away 2m again while the operator completes the transaction and produces the receipt.
  • The receipt is then placed with the goods purchased and the operator can step away once more.
  • Customer is then invited to step forward to collect their goods and receipt then leave. This process should be marked with tape to manage effectively

We will sanitise the Chip and Pin units and the till top (if used) between transactions.

We have installed perspex screening as an additional protection.

We might have a “cards only” till in operation. We also might go cash free if there is little cash being used. These things are likely to change as we discover how our customers are preferring to pay.


Queueing Guidance

  • Place tape markers on the floor at 2m intervals along the route you wish customers to queue.
  • This will help customers to gauge the 2m distance.
  • In car parks or on walkways:
  • Use stacks of bagged compost or other suitable product to lay out a queueing zone with the bags positioned 2m apart.
  • This will prevent bunching up in the queue.

Other operational changes

All of these will be subject to change as we assess how well we are coping with the new protocols.

When we re-open we will not be doing any of the following.

  • Selling/exchanging Gas bottles
  • Selling HTA gift tokens
  • Taking customer orders
  • Arranging deliveries.

We feel all these procedures, while providing a service will add to customer interactions and paperwork and increase the risk of infection. We desire to return to a full service when it is practical and safe to do so.