Farm shops in the UK have recorded a surge in sales during recent months. According to research published by the Farm Retail Association (FRA), the appeal of these outlets is that they provide reliable and affordable access to abundant locally sourced fresh seasonal produce. Of the farm retailers surveyed by the FRA, 92% reported a significant rise in new customers since the lockdown began. Around 79% stated that they had introduced click-and-collect services during the coronavirus pandemic, including completely contactless drive-through channels, while 67% reported having introduced home delivery services. Indeed, the country’s farm shops have processed an estimated 1.4 million home delivery or collection orders since the lockdown measures were introduced.
The FRA stresses that farm shops provide calm environments with easy-to-follow social distancing measures that allow shoppers to feel safe, whilst also allowing communities to benefit from new services that were not previously available. The UK’s network of farm shops is estimated to have a combined turnover in excess of £1.5bn.
FRA chairman Rob Copley said: “The last couple of months have clearly shown that farm retailers can react nimbly to customer demands because of their size, independence and direct relationships with local farmers. They have also shown that they are proactive, supportive members of their local communities. We have members who prepare and deliver ready meals to local community groups that support the most vulnerable members of society. Others are donating produce to local school hubs, frontline NHS staff and other key workers.”
The farm shops will now be hoping that these consumption patterns become long-term habits as the lockdown measures begin to ease.