Last summer, staff at Bonners fruit and veg stall in the Covered Market were still fighting the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on trade.

Wholesale orders from university colleges and other businesses fell away overnight and manager Gordon Piggott and his wife Verity decided to create an online shop in order to survive.

It took off in a big way and orders started to flood in for deliveries from across Oxfordshire.

Now, one year on, online deliveries are still going strong but the business is in a much stronger position after the bulk of its wholesale orders returned, following the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

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Mr Piggott said: “Online orders are still steady but now, once again, we have our wholesale orders from restaurants like No 1 Ship Street, and from the White Rabbit, the Story Museum, and from Wilding, the new restaurant in Little Clarendon Street.

Oxford Mail:

“We also supply fruit and veg to quite a few different Oxford University colleges - Brasenose, Corpus Christi, Exeter, St John’s.

“It’s everything we missed last year - the wholeside side of the business is back with a vengeance.”

Mr Piggott said some fruit and veg is supplied by local farms.

“We get it soft fruits, asparagus and potatoes delivered from local places like Rectory Farm,” he added.

“There is also a farm at Hinton Waldrist supplying us.”

Mr Piggott is now hopeful that more office workers and international tourists will continue to return to the city centre.

He added: “We usually have tourists for nine months of the year but that won’t be the case this year.

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“I think some people are still nervous about coming into the city centre because they think it might be crowded.

“Traders in the market are still keeping their masks on - it’s the responsible thing to do - when I’m wearing a mask it protects you.”

Oxford Mail:

Last year, with a flat rate delivery charge for all locations the online delivery service proved an attractive option for people at home during lockdowns and soon Bonners staff were using their vans to deliver goods from other stalls in the market, together with their fruit and veg.

These included Wicket Chocolate, The Oxford Cheese Company and Teardrop Brewery.

Following Freedom Day on July 19, it is no longer mandatory to wear a mask in shops.

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But shoppers at the market are being asked to wear their masks.

Oxford Mail:

The Covered Market website says: “As our market is indoors, Government guidance has stated that it is expected and recommended that people wear face coverings in crowded areas. While wearing face coverings is not mandatory, we encourage our customers to follow this advice to help reduce the spread of Covid-19 especially to protect vulnerable people who are less protected by the vaccine.”

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