High standards of produce and service are among the top reasons for visiting farm shops, according to a new survey.

Nine out of 10 shoppers have said the friendly service they receive at farm shops and other independent stores will be the biggest draw for them this Christmas.

And 80% of those planning to use farm shops ahead of the festivities want to support local businesses and the economy, found researchers for insurer NFU Mutual.

“It’s great to see so many people planning to use farm shops this Christmas after they rose to the challenge of massive demand through the pandemic lockdowns,” said NFU Mutual rural affairs specialist Rebecca Davidson.

As well as providing staple foods at a time when supermarkets struggled with supply, farm shops and indie stores offered a friendly face to consumers who would otherwise have felt isolated, she added.

Some of the inspiring work undertaken by farm shops and specialist food stores was highlighted in the Farm Shop & Deli Show Retailer Awards this year.

Nearly a third of respondents (31%) said they were shopping with local independent stores more than before the pandemic, and 42% said they wanted to support smaller businesses that may be struggling because of coronavirus.

Quality and sustainability are also big draws for farm shop customers, according to the survey.

Seventy per cent of respondents said farm shops offered fresher, better-quality produce, while two thirds of people said they preferred farm shops because they provided food from sustainable sources with lower food miles.

And it seems consumers are acting on their claims, with retailers reporting strong sales ahead of the festivities.

“Anecdotally, we hear that numbers are up across the board with more customers than ever preferring to shop at their local farm retailer,” said Rob Copley, chairman of trade body the Farm Retail Association.

“It’s terrific to hear there’s a real sense of loyalty from the public for their local farm retailer.”

The research was carried out last month by Insights Consulting with 569 NFU Mutual customers from across the UK.



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