Marks & Spencer has withdrawn the Christmas Food to Order service from its shops in the Republic of Ireland, due to ongoing supply issues caused by Brexit.
In notices on social media, the company said: “Given the current challenges in the food industry, there was too much risk that we could potentially let customers down with key items in their orders ahead of the all-important day - we’d never want to do that.”
A spokesperson for the UK-based retailer said the decision was due to “the complex checks and delays resulting from Brexit.”
Previously, M&S opened its online orders for Christmas food in September, with customers paying a deposit on ordering and the balance on collection, at pre-booked time slots.
But the company still hopes to have a full range of seasonal food items available to purchase in-store in the Republic. “Customers in Ireland will be able to get all their festive treats from our Foodhall.”
Turkeys are expected to be in short supply this year in the UK, however M&S expects to be able to meet demand in Ireland. “Customers will be able to buy fresh turkeys from mid-December. The vast majority of turkeys will be supplied from Irish farmers and there are no planned reductions in the range and volume.”
The spokesperson could not confirm if prebooked Christmas food shopping times, which proved popular last year, will be available again this December. “We will set out details of store opening times and other arrangements later in the year,” they said.
Other food retailers in the Republic already have plans in place to manage festive food shopping crowds, and to cater to those who do not wish to have to enter crowded retail environments in the run up to Christmas.
A spokesperson for SuperValu said: “From November, both delivery and click and collect Christmas slots will be made available nationwide for stores that provide an online shopping service throughout the year. Shoppers will be able to pick a slot on supervalu.ie or through the SuperValu shopping app for their local store. Online shoppers can amend their order up to 6pm the day before their delivery or collection.”
SuperValu turkeys are expected to be available in the same quantities and range as in previous years. “All our fresh turkeys are Irish sourced and Bord Bia approved and will be available in stores from Monday, December 20th.”
Tesco shoppers who subscribe to the company's Delivery Saver option, with unlimited deliveries from €7.50 per month, and those registered for free delivery for customers over 65 years of age, will be able to book Christmas delivery or collection slots from mid-November. "For all other customers, Christmas slots will be available to book from later in November," a spokesperson said.
Pre-order of turkeys will also be available from those dates. “All Tesco Ireland Christmas turkeys, both fresh and frozen, are born and bred in Ireland and are Bord Bia approved. Our Irish free-range, organic and bronze turkeys will be available from December 19th, for customers who want to pick up a turkey sooner, frozen turkeys are available in stores now.”
Aldi's Christmas click and collect option will be live from Friday, November 19th, at a small number of the retailer's 148 stores in Ireland. "Shoppers can plan to avoid the tills by pre-booking a grocery collection for the Christmas period from any of the 25 Aldi stores offering a click and collect service," a spokesperson said. "After pre-booking a collection slot, shoppers can add items to their online order right up to the day before collection."
Turkeys from Irish suppliers can also be pre-ordered, for collection between December 20th and 23rd. “Aldi has a significant increase in volumes of quality Irish turkey from their Monaghan based supplier IGWT Poultry Services Limited.”
Lidl does not offer a pre-booking service, but the retailer is on the Buymie mobile app, which offers delivery of groceries in an hour. Extended shopping hours will be on offer during the Christmas period and additional staff will be on duty. "We will also continue to have our queue management system in place which enables us to manage the number of people in stores to allow for adequate social distancing," a spokesperson said.
“This Christmas, Lidl Ireland stores will stock 100 per cent Irish whole turkeys sourced from Bord Bia approved suppliers based in Monaghan. Seasonal turkey quantities will be comparable to last year, and we expect to have more than sufficient volume to meet the demand from our customers.” Fresh turkey will be in Lidl stores from December 20th.