If you’ve been making the most of what your local farm shop has to offer during lockdown, you’re not alone. According to recent research by the Farm Retail Association (FRA), farm retailers nationwide saw an unprecedented surge in new customers and are hopeful that shopping habits forged as a reaction to coronavirus will last long beyond the pandemic.
By providing reliable access to abundant fresh seasonal produce, sourced with low food miles directly from local family-run farms at fair prices, independent farm shops have become a more attractive option to shoppers than ever before.
Around 92% of the farm retailers surveyed reported a “significant” rise in new customers since lockdown began in March. Quick to adapt from the start, farm shops have offered continually replenished shelves to establish themselves as quality local alternatives to under-pressure supermarkets. And there’s plenty of good reason to keep up our new local shopping habits.
In many instances, local communities have benefitted from a raft of new services such as click and collect, contactless drive-thrus, home deliveries and new product lines such as washing powder and loo rolls in addition to staple food and drink offerings. As a result, farm shops across the UK processed an estimated 1.4 million-plus orders for home delivery or collection since lockdown began.
Such ingenuity means farm shops are protecting hundreds of jobs and income for thousands of farmer suppliers in otherwise tough economic circumstances. By adding new services for customers, some 73% of farm retailers said they have either hired extra staff or furloughed fewer employees than expected.
Run by local families, for local families
Farm retailers play a crucial role in the rural economy, providing welcome support for thousands of independent suppliers, from family farms to artisan makers. However, the FRA acknowledges that the challenge for farm shops is to ensure customers keep coming back.
So as lockdown eases and life begins to slowly return to a vague semblance of normality, why not maintain your new good habit of shopping at your local farm shop. If you’re yet to pick up the habit, why not start to search for your nearest farm shop here.
Looking to set up in farm retail? We’ve funded several farm shops, if you’re considering diversifying into farm retail and looking for finance, contact us to see if we can help.
Want to invest to support local businesses? If you’ve money to invest and want to support local businesses while earning typically 6.5% p.a. in interest, find out more. (Capital at risk. No FSCS)
By Veryan Skinner, Head of Brand, Marketing & Communications.
This blog is based on a press release from the Farm Retail Association. It was originally published in our #FOLKUS newsletter. Subscribe to get future issues delivered into your inbox: www.folk2folk.com/folkus