The recent blockage in the Suez Canal, combined with the increase in visits to garden centres during lockdown, has created a shortage of garden gnomes in the UK.
Last month, disaster struck as a huge cargo ship, called the Ever Given, got stuck in one of the world’s busiest trade routes. After a long six days of re-floating attempts, the ship was finally freed on March 29.
At the time, experts warned the Suez Canal block would have knock-on effects for weeks to come. In the UK, it means companies haven’t been able to access the raw materials used in the making of garden gnomes.
‘With goods arriving from abroad, garden centres were affected by the ship getting stuck in the canal as much as any other industry. Garden furniture, ornaments, of which gnomes would be some, being stuck in containers trying to come over here,’ Iain Wylie, chief executive of the Garden Centre Association told BBC News.
He also said lockdown contributed to the shortage of garden gnomes. Under coronavirus restrictions, garden centres have been allowed to stay open, with many turning to gardening to pass their time at home.
‘While garden gnomes are not top of everyone’s list, gardening has been very popular during lockdown… and correspondingly we’ve had difficult times where supply chains have been under pressure,’ he said.
Ian Byrne, assistant manager of Highfield Garden World in Whitminster, said the garden centre had seen an influx of visitors and a ‘massive upswing’ in sales of garden gnomes.
‘We haven’t seen a gnome in six months now, unfortunately,’ he said of the shortage.
‘Raw materials are becoming a bit of an issue and unfortunately, gnomes are a victim of that shortage of supply. Gnomes of any type, plastic, stone or concrete, are in short supply,’ he said.
He added: ‘They’ve been very popular over the last couple of seasons, we’ve seen a massive upswing in the sales of gnomes and definitely a different clientele wanting gnomes too.’