Do farm shops need to change their opening hours in order to attract shoppers away from the large retailers?

It is a question that is sparking some interesting debate on the FWiSpace forums. Here are some highlights from the views that have been expressed so far:

“With supermarkets being open until at least 10pm do farm shops need to adapt to these times? Working mothers normally will shop after work or at the weekends and all of the farm shops in my area are closed by at least 5pm and shut at 1pm at the weekend. If they were to open later, say 11 am and shut at 8pm then we could go some way to regaining some of the market?” Ed the digger

“That’s a very good point, but there is one big difference. The supermarkets have dozens of staff in each store, all working shifts. Many farm shops I know of are only run by the farming family themselves – as well as the rest of the work that needs doing on the farm. How many small businesses would be able to afford the extra staff that would enable them to stay open later?” charliemoo

“I would, like Ronnie Barker, ‘open all hours’ to begin with and study the data. So keep records of footfall for the first three months and close down accordingly. It is easier to close down hours than open up extra ones. Therefore it will be hard work for the family to start with, but you know you will rein it back later.” Motley

“I can’t emphasise the point already made that you must conduct your consumer research. It is essential to get a clear understanding of what your ideal customers need. My other essential would be to train your staff fully in being able to be food ambassadors to your customers and true sales people with a real understanding of what it means to deliver Olympic standard customer service.” the greenth

Have you got a view on this issue? See what else has been written – and add your own thoughts – on the forum thread.