Turkey farmers and UK retailers are preparing for a COVID-19 Christmas
Catherine Drew


Non-essential businesses in the UK forced to close their doors for the second nationwide lockdown have an anxious time ahead of them as they wait to see if restrictions will be lifted as planned in early December.  

This year, the businesses that depend heavily on Christmas trade are being forced to adapt. One of them is Copas Traditional Turkey farm in Berkshire, in southeast England, where the 25,000 strong flock arrived just before a socially distant Christmas was on the cards. 

The traditional Christmas Fayre and other promotional yearly events have been canceled, with customers ordering online and picking up their Christmas turkeys via a drive-by system.  

"We have sold more smaller birds at this point in time than we did last year," said managing director Tom Copas. "Indeed we've sold out of our smallest birds, however the majority of people are calling saying, 'What did I have last year, ok then I'll have the same.' They tell us we understand when you ordered these turkeys you had no idea about the current situation." 

The farm is sending out not only Turkeys, but also recipe cards with ideas for leftovers, in case size restrictions on gatherings are still in force at Christmas time.



Another business adapting to the lockdown is Marie Hawthorne's party shop business in the nearby village of Cookham. Christmas is peak season for the business, which only opened last year and sells party decorations, gifts and helium balloons. 

"It's disappointing. Since we reopened in July, we've worked hard to build the business back up," said Marie from her store, Sweet Marie's Party Shop. 

"We had a bit of confidence and invested for the festive period, so closing is disappointing, but we have to adapt. We're doing that through switching to mail order, we'll push hard that aspect of the business and will establish a click-and-collect service for local people."

Many shops are counting on the lockdown not being extended past the December 2 deadline, although there's no guarantee customers will be back in person in time for this most crucial date in the UK retail calendar.

Cover image: Simon Dawson/Reuters