Public find festive cheer at farm shops during Covid

The outlook for farm shops may be looking positive despite the pre-Christmas slump in shoppers due to the latest Covid situation.

In a survey by NFU Mutual, nine out of 10 shoppers highlighted friendly service as the main reason they would use farm shops and local retailers this Christmas.

Some 70% said farm shops offered fresher, better quality produce – and eight out of 10 plan to use them to support their local businesses and economy.   

See also: Video: How local farm shops are filling the supermarket supply gap

Environmental concerns were another reason many shoppers plan to buy local farm produce, while two-thirds of people surveyed said they preferred farm shops because they provided food from sustainable sources with lower food miles.

NFU Mutual works in partnership with the Farm Retail Association (FRA), sharing advice and supporting events to help those setting up farm shops.

FRA chairman Rob Copley said: “Farm retailers are at the heart of the community and they came into their own during Covid, adapting their space quickly to keep their staff and customers safe. 

“Anecdotally we hear that numbers are up across the board with more customers than ever preferring to shop at their local farm retailer, and it’s heartening to hear these statistics confirm this.”

Mr Copley, who is also the co-owner of Pontefract-based Farmer Copleys alongside his wife, Heather, added:

“We look forward to welcoming the public through our doors for their Christmas shopping over what will be our busiest period, and we can’t thank them enough for their continued support.”

Man stands near a sign reading 'Santa's workshop'

Craigie’s managing director John Sinclair © MAG/Philip Case

‘Busier than ever’

Farmer Thomas Gay, who runs the New Manor farm shop in south Bristol, said the shop was busier than ever this Christmas.

“We have definitely seen a shift in people’s views on buying local since the pandemic, and it’s become much more important to them to know where their food has come from,” he said.

“There are so many benefits to buying local and we hear this from our customers all the time. People who buy from us know where their meat has come from and where their fruit and vegetables have been grown.”

Craigie’s Farm Shop and Café in South Queensferry, near Edinburgh, has been busy taking orders for delivery and collection of foods for Christmas and New Year.

John Sinclair, managing director of Craigie’s Farm, said staff had also been getting into the festive spirit with a Christmas toy shop in its Little Farmers area and a Covid-safe Santa’s Grotto.

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