DIY stores report damp but decorative Easter

THE do-it-yourself enthusiast's maxim: 'if it precipitates then decorate' came into its own over the Easter weekend. With the best-laid plans for the garden rained off, paint rollers became the order of the day at the DIY sheds, writes John Shepherd.

Peter Bastin, sales and marketing director of Great Mills, which runs 92 sheds, said: 'At Easter we rely heavily on gardening, but the weather has not been too good. The decorative side, though, has done well.'

Similar results were registered at Texas Homecare, owned by Ladbroke, which has 230 outlets with average selling space of 30,000 sq ft. 'Products for inside the home did particularly well, but sales of gardening products were slow,' a spokesman said.

B&Q, which has 280 sheds and is owned by Kingfisher, was more coy about its performance. 'We expected Easter to be busy,' said a spokeswoman when asked about the heaviest weekend for trading in the pounds 6bn- a-year DIY market.

Overall, Great Mills said the weekend had been satisfactory despite the weather. 'There is a glimmer of hope that business is coming back,' Mr Bastin said.

But whether higher sales during Easter can be construed as an upturn in consumer confidence remains to be seen, particularly in the knowledge that prices have been cut to the bone on thousands of products as DIY operators fight for market share.