How garden centres became the go-to Christmas destination

And why Beautiful Christmas magazine is key to driving footfall at this vital time in the retail year

The supermarket shelves are stocked high with mince pies that will be past their sell-by date long before the big day. And up and down the UK, high streets are decked with festive lights just waiting for the flick of a switch by a D-list celebrity. Yes, it’s mid-October and with only 68 days (at the time of writing) to go, the countdown to Christmas has most definitely started.

But if you are already dreading the horrors of the high-street – being bludgeoned by a Barbie in the fight to win this year’s must-have toy, or rocking up to claim your long-awaited and paid-for bird only to find a rancid smelling turkey (remember last year’s scandal?) – then you clearly don’t live in the catchment area of a Tillington Group garden centre.

Because for those lucky 3 million households who have just heard the welcome thud of Beautiful Christmas magazine 2018 landing on their doormats (20 versions this year), everything festive is well and truly sorted. And not just the tree, decorations, gifts and speciality food buying. But all the activities and events they could wish for to keep the whole family entertained, too.

Working with the Tillington Group since 2002, we have witnessed their businesses transform from local garden centres and nurseries into leisure destinations with a true multi-generational appeal. And at the time of year when consumers’ enthusiasm for gardening is cooling in line with the ambient outdoor temperature, there’s no better time to attract new, younger audiences through the door.

From talking to customers we’ve learned how many now mark the start of Christmas with a visit to their local Tillington Group garden centre. It’s the place where old traditions are revived, new traditions are made, and unforgettable selfies are taken at attractions that include real ice-rinks, reindeer, food markets, and Santa’s grottos.

And all the preparation that goes into creating Beautiful Christmas magazine – kicking off with a planning meeting in March and peaking with the location house shoot in June (roaring fire, hyped up kids, Santa-suited dog et al) – becomes worth it when we hear the results.

‘At a time of year when households are overwhelmed by retail catalogues, Beautiful Christmas truly stands out,’ says Andrew Evans, MD of Ruxley Manor garden centre in Sidcup. ‘Last year we saw an immediate sales uplift, as the featured lines became the must-have products for Christmas 2017.’

What’s the secret to the magazine’s success? Well the magic elves most definitely have a part to play. So if you’d like to find out more, please get in touch.