Edinburgh’s long summer evenings have begun to draw ever so slightly shorter, with early morning puffs of breath visible in the air and a light dusting of fallen leaves beginning to sprinkle pavements and parks.
Summer is well and truly over, and for one Edinburgh store this can only mean one thing: it’s time to get the Christmas decorations out.
Mortonhall Garden Centre on Frogston Road East makes “no apology” for putting up its decorations in mid September, and said its customers have welcomed the move.
Staff at the garden centre, a member of the Klondyke chain, said they wanted to begin preparing for Christmas even earlier than usual this year because of uncertainty over further Covid-19 restrictions.
As shoppers do not know if they may need to limit their contact with the outside world again, many of them are keen to get Christmas shopping organised early, Garden Centre Manager Matthew Bailey said.
“We make no apologies for getting the decorations out early,” said Mr Bailey.
“We don’t know what’s on the horizon, and we want people to be able to come early and get their Christmas shopping done.
“We want to help customers plan ahead and make the most of their shopping experience whilst visiting the garden centre.
“With the current climate of the increase threat of Covid, and restrictions that we have had in place in recent months, we believe this is the year when we needed to have it out earlier for our customers.”
Mr Bailey added that “probably a third of our shop is now related to christmas.”
The store has displays of light-up reindeer, fairies, snowglobes and penguins, and a “Mortonhall Christmas Market” area complete with a large Christmas tree strung with lights.
There is also a miniature Christmas village display, sprinkled with snow.
Most garden centres will get their Christmas decorations out towards the end of October, Mr Bailey said, adding: “We’re probably one of the first in the market to have got the decorations up.”
Customers have responded well to the move, Mr Bailey said.
“The response has been extremely positive from customers who seem eager to be buying decorations and lights to have ready for when the festive period approaches,” he said.
“Customers are already buying things for christmas with a view to what might happen in future.
“The garden centre has everything you need for the Autumn too and we are seeing customers buying lots of gardening products and plants for their garden now and
in readiness for next Spring!”
The Christmas displays also feature fundraising buckets for Marie Curie, which Mr Bailey said the garden centre does every year, but which will be even more important now given the drop in donations seen by many charities during the pandemic.
It may not be long before other Edinburgh stores join the race to get festive.
Garden centre Dobbies said: “We are in the process of putting our Christmas products out on display in our Edinburgh store.
"As our flagship store, we set up earlier to showcase our decorations for the festive season and to train our team members across the country on how to display our key decorating themes.
"Customer feedback on our new ranges has been positive and purchases have been made.”