The weeks leading up to Christmas are often filled with frantic present shopping, nights out and last minute food buying for the perfect festive meal.
This year things are looking a little bit different with less office parties, less in-store shopping and a whole lot more social distancing.
One thing that is always a focus at Christmas time is food and what to have for dinner. Will it be turkey, a goose, or a nut roast?
With less than four weeks until the big day, we reached out to a number of supermarkets to see how they’re preparing for a Christmas which is sure to look slightly different this year.
Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer, who provide a Christmas dinner food service each year, have increased their opening times for the majority of their stores for their busiest period of December 21 to 23.
Some stores will be open until midnight, allowing customers extra time to grab their groceries or final gifts ahead of the big day – including the Simply Food store at the Gallagher Retail Park.
The store will be open from 6am to midnight from December 21 to 23 and will be open from 6am to 7pm on Christmas Eve.
The retailer also has several measures in place to keep people safe during the busy period, including hand sanitiser, as well as Perspex screens at tills and a maximum capacity limit at each store based on the store’s size.
Sacha Berendji, M&S’s retail, operations and property director, said: “We want our customers to be able to shop with confidence this Christmas, which means supporting social distancing in our stores and minimal queueing outside as the weather gets colder.
“To help with this, our Sparks Book & Shop service is now live at every store and we’ll be operating our longest ever opening hours just before Christmas to help customers purchase everything they need to make the big day special.”
Following this week’s announcement to temporarily relax restrictions over the Christmas period, M&S has decided to close its operations on Boxing Day, having previously planned to open over 200 of them.
Steve Rowe, CEO, said: “2020 has been a uniquely challenging year for everyone and, this Christmas, the celebrations we have will be more precious than ever.
“That’s why in the run up to Christmas we are opening longer hours and have accelerated the launch of new digital services such as Sparks Book & Shop to help our customers prepare, but it’s also why we have taken the decision to close our operations on Boxing Day, so that our colleagues can enjoy more special time with their loved ones.
“This is a big decision, but it is absolutely the right one given the incredible effort everyone has made in the most challenging of circumstances.”
Sainsbury’s are focused on ensuring their supermarkets are fully prepared for Christmas. A spokesman for the company said that they, like Marks & Spencer, will be increasing their store hours in the days running up to Christmas.
He said: “Safety is our highest priority and our stores continue to have a range of measures in place – from Perspex safety screens between checkouts and additional cleaning, to hand sanitisers and signs inside and throughout our stores which remind customers to keep a safe distance.
“Colleagues working on the shop floor are continuing to wearing face coverings or visors, unless they are working behind Perspex screens. We are also continuing to remind customers to wear face coverings if they are able to.
“We have greeters outside our supermarkets and busy convenience stores, as well as posters and regular tannoy announcements.
“We are giving our customers more time to shop safely with us and extending our Christmas opening hours. The vast majority of our supermarkets will be open from 6am until midnight from December 21 to 23.
“On Christmas Eve, most of our supermarkets will be open from 6am to 7pm and on Christmas day all of our stores will be closed.
“Opening hours can vary though, so we advise customers check our store locator for the latest details for their area.”
Lidl have listed their opening times as “normal” during the Christmas period. Their stores in Stobswell, Kingsway East, Macalpine Road, and Lochee will be open from 8am until 10pm on December 21 to 23, however on Christmas Eve they will be open from 7am until 6pm.
Their South Ward Road store will be open from 8am to 10pm on December 21 to 23. They will be open from 8am to 6pm on Christmas Eve.
Aldi have said they are extending their opening hours in the run up to Christmas Eve. Stores will be open from 7am to 11pm on December 21 to 23 and from 7am to 6pm on Christmas Eve, although some stores in Scotland may vary.
They still have their Covid safety measures in place which include mandatory face coverings in stores, a traffic light system, and priority times for the elderly and those most vulnerable.
Aldi have also published their delivery dates for Christmas. Last orders for standard and large item delivery must be played by December 16 and last orders for next day/named day delivery must be placed by December 21 at 7pm.
Tesco, Asda and Morrisons have all been approached for comment.