Garden centres exploit loophole for Easter

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The Independent Online
A national do-it-yourself chain is hoping to cash in this Easter by using a loophole in the Sunday trading laws to attract gardeners making the most of the fine Bank Holiday weather.

B&Q, the country's largest DIY chain, will open 11 of its garden centres across England and Wales tomorrow by setting up cash tills outside the stores.

The 1994 Sunday Trading Act banned stores with a floor area of more than 3,000sq ft from opening on Easter Sunday in England and Wales, but the Home Office says items can be sold tomorrow as long as goods and tills are covered only "by a canopy or gazebo" and are not in a building.

Easter is a boom-time for the DIY and gardening industries and B&Q expects to attract 3 million customers to its stores over the weekend.

That is of course if they can fight their way through the Bank Holiday traffic. Several accidents yesterday caused delays on major routes. Ten young men were injured, two of them seriously, in a minibus crash on the A3 in Surrey. They were thrown from their vehicle as it crashed into the central reservation.

No other vehicle was involved in the accident but the southbound carriageway was closed, causing long tailbacks and diversions.

A young woman died in a 25 vehicle pile-up on the eastbound M4 on Thursday night which injured eight other people and closed the motorway for almost 12 hours.

The M6 northbound near Birmingham was slow moving yesterday and lorry loads shed on the M1 and M25 caused delays. In South Yorkshire, a four- mile tailback built up on the A1 trunk road after an accident on the northbound carriageway near Doncaster.

Traffic was also heavy on the M5 Avonmouth Bridge near Bristol, the M62 near Huddersfield in West Yorkshire and the M1 northbound out of London.

The Automobile Association and the Royal Automobile Club predicted more congestion over the remainder of the weekend as clear, sunny spells and temperatures in the mid-teens Celsius draw out more crowds.

On the railways, a fire on a freight train on the InterCity east-coast line caused a backlog of trains and stranded some passengers.

Those escaping Britain for the Continent also faced travel problems. Cars queuing for the Channel tunnel caused tailbacks on the M20 in Kent and pilots' strikes in France planned for the Easter weekend were set to disturb domestic flights.