FARM shops are bucking the trend in the lead-up to Christmas with more customers than ever preferring to shop at their local farm retailer.

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

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 and 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, and it’s heartening to hear these statistics confirm this.”

Rebecca Davidson, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Throughout the pandemic farm shops have provided a lifeline to local communities, sourcing vital supplies during shortages, delivering fresh produce to vulnerable people and helping to keep people’s spirits up with friendly service.

Rebecca added“The rise of these rural retailers has been no mean feat. Many farm shops have worked round the clock transforming their business model to meet demand, such as introducing click and collect services. Staff have adapted from serving in farm shop cafes to processing and delivering online orders, and stores have redesigned their layouts to offer Covid-safe shopping experiences.”