Farm and village shops report lower takings as second homeowners stay away in lockdown 3

Orford General Store, Suffolk

Orford General Store said sales had been down in the latest lockdown. - Credit: Sue Gadd

Farm shop and village store bosses say takings are slower this lockdown compared to the previous two, as second homeowners have stayed away.

Owners of rural shops near the Suffolk coast say second homeowners have listened to locals' pleas to stay away in the third lockdown.

Sue Cox, manager of Orford General Store, said: "In the first lockdown Orford was absolutely rammed with second homers. It was absolutely manic.

"Orford normally only has about 650 people live here. But suddenly [in the first lockdown] every house was absolutely rammed. 

"I can remember working seven days a week, minimum of 12 hours a day, and then going home and sitting in front of a computer just trying to trying to find stock for us.

"There were huge queues outside of the shop. They were 30 deep at times."

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But second home-owners have heeded government advice and not come to Orford this time, according to Ms Cox.

Orford general Store

Orford General Store - Credit: Archant

"We've got very few second homers here at the moment," she said. "Not many at all.

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"It's a bit heartbreaking. Although we say they're second homers, they're friends as well.

"Many of these people have had family homes here for generations. So they're friends and people we know well.

"It's sad not to see them. But at the same time, we know they're doing the right thing by respecting the other people who live here."

The lack of second homeowners has led to the General Store changing what it is stocking, to stock more "everyday staples".

James Blyth, owner of Friday Street Farm Shop, also said the lack of second homeowners meant the shop's takings had been quieter.

James Blyth, owner of Friday Street Farm Shopn amongst his crop of Strawberries Picture: SARAH LUCY

James Blyth, owner of Friday Street Farm Shop - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

"Obviously the first lockdown was over lockdown and running through to the spring," he said. "We were probably  50-60% busier than normal some weeks.

"At the moment we're slightly busier but nowhere near that.

"We have seen that footfall is probably down 40% compared to this time last year, but spend is up 60-70%. So people are doing what they should do and coming to do a weekly shop rather than coming to get a pint of milk."

Mr Blyth said that shorter supply chains and less busy stores made independents and farm shops more attractive than bigger stores.

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