Northern beaches sticking by butchers as COVID-19 crimps Christmas22nd December 2020
To ensure no turkey or pig would have died for Christmas in vain, it offered a 20 per cent discount on the cost of an order to customers who’d rather donate the food to someone in need or a homeless shelter. A few customers have already taken them up on the offer.
“The animal died for Xmas, and we don’t want to waste that meat and protein,” said owner Kristy Barbara. “We deal directly with farmer who grows our turkey for our orders. And we sell out of turkeys every year, because we don’t want a turkey hanging around [unsold]. It is a bit sad.”
For most butchers, Christmas sales are the biggest of the year. Ms Barbara said the average order was about $200 to $300 and she normally expects to sell the equivalent of two week’s worth of business on the two days before Christmas. On the flip side, for all those people whose holiday plans have been cancelled, some are now staying put and realising they need to order food.
Ms Barbara has also been impressed by the number of customers who are going ahead with large orders because they know her business will suffer if they cancel.
Ms Hansen said her Avalon business gets hundreds of orders for Christmas, and last-minute changes were making a busy time chaotic. She has been moved by the number of customers who have either modified or stuck with their original orders instead of cancelling. “It is touching, people are sharing the loss with us,” she said.
Curl Curl resident Justin Scarr has ordered pork ordered from his butcher, Curly’s Meats. Although his plans for a large Christmas have changed, he won’t cancel because it is a local business. “We will still cook it, and eat it,” he said.
Worrying about whether the ham will go off or whether to cancel the order may be first world problem. But for many people, the ham or the turkey was a symbol of loss for many people whose family reunions had been cancelled, said David Thomas, chief executive officer of Lifeline Northern Beaches.
“The Christmas ham is in the fridge, and they know it is the least of their worries. But this second time around [for the lockdown] is distressing,” he said.
Mr Thomas said the number of locals coming in for counselling had kept pace with the record number of calls nationally to Lifeline.
His personal mobile had also not stopped ringing – nor has he managed to sleep for the last two nights – from locals a+nd friends who are “pretty distressed”.
“We are seeing some pretty stoic people melting down and crying. People who would never call Lifeline. It has been the busiest time in my working career,” he said.
Lifeline crisis supporters are available on the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 13 11 14.
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Julie Power is a senior reporter at The Sydney Morning Herald.