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    UK Farm Retailers, that was different!

    UK Farm Retailers, that was different!

    Look back. But don’t forget to look forward too.

    Look back. But remember to look forward too

    So 2021 is well underway, and we are (hopefully) heading towards the end of lockdown #3. As is true across the whole retail industry, those in farm retail have had to react and adapt to ensure their businesses stay afloat quickly.

    Although many farm shops have been permitted to remain open during lockdowns as essential retailers, there have still been large losses suffered. Onsite cafes have had to close, as well as craft centres, playgrounds and farm parks. Many restaurants have ceased fresh produce orders, having had to shut their own doors, and events have been put on hold.

    It’s been a difficult year; there’s no doubt about it. But on reflection, farm retailers should only be proud of how their sector has responded. Farm retailers across the UK jumped into action, quickly creating new websites and e-commerce systems to provide existing and new local customers with user-friendly ways to continue ordering fresh and homemade goods. Some began or increased local delivery services, some operated a ‘click (or call)-and collect option, and others even started ‘drive-thru’ collection points. Cafes offered take-away drinks and snacks for those out on daily exercise. Farm shops have adjusted impressively well to the new regulations on social distancing, hygiene and isolation – despite hurdles such as small square footage and low staff numbers.

    FRA research shows that over 92% of UK farm retailers reported a significant rise in new customers since March 2020, which is fantastic and a testament to the industry’s adaptability.

    What happens next?

    The end of lockdown will certainly mark a change in customers’ spending habits, as the public are offered more choice again. Where they might have selected high-quality products to cook at home, they may return to eating out. Where they might have enjoyed leisurely shopping in local stores while furloughed, they may quickly resort to rushed ‘big shops’ in the larger supermarkets when back at work. Those in farm retail can’t rest on their laurels but must keep this momentum going.

    Keep the websites maintained, keep the social media posts regular, plan events and celebrations for when allowed to re-open fully, and keep abreast of all new regulations. For some practical tips about resuming business post-lockdown, look at the Ebook – The 7 Things Retailers Got Wrong in 2020.

    Make it your goal for 2021 to retain these new customers and continue to grow. Now they have found you, don’t let them forget you. It should be the start of a beautiful friendship – not just a brief encounter…

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