Why Sunderland has all the ingredients for Christmas

From parsnips to pork and turnips to turkey, savvy Sunderland shoppers can get it all in the bag without leaving the city centre.

Tuesday, 19th December 2017, 3:02 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th December 2017, 4:10 pm

With less than a week until Christmas Day, traders across the city centre are greeting thousands of customers keen to grab their last-minute food items ahead of the big day.

And while for many it may seem more convenient to hit the local big supermarket, shoppers should also take into account the sheer number of independent traders in Sunderland who can also meet their needs.

Sharon Appleby

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“Where independent traders score is in the fact that we deal directly with our suppliers and will ensure that we don’t run out of anything,” explained Matty Thoburn of Thoburn’s Fruit and Veg in Jacky Whites Market.

“For us and many other independent traders, the customer is number one. I like to think of each and every one as a friend, and I want to be sure no-one is disappointed.”

Matty and the Thoburn’s team are expecting to shift large numbers of fruit and veg this week, but he admits the most popular vegetable is not the one most would expect.

“Parsnips are far and away the most popular. Everyone expects it to be sprouts, but it isn’t. Other popular choices are McIntosh red apples, satsumas and clementines,” he said.

Sharon Appleby

“And there is no panic about buying them late. Anytime from now will be fine, as long as they’re looked after properly at home, there’s no reason anyone shouldn’t pick up their Christmas Day vegetables now to save panic later in the week.”

When it comes to festive meat, there’s as much choice in smaller shops than there is in large supermarkets.

Rob Robson, of Rob’s Quality Butchers not only supplies the meat, but also throws in the kit needed to cook it.

From his Blandford Street store, Rob and the team sell their popular meat hampers, priced at £69 which include a selection of turkey, beef, pork, gammon, chipolatas and streaky bacon.

And to make the whole process painless, Rob also includes cooking timers, a roasting tray and tin foil.

“We like to make it as easy as possible by giving our customers all the tools they need to cook their Christmas roast,” said Rob. “It saves a lot of hassle for some people, and it’s become really popular over the last few years.

“As a local store with regular, local customers, we want to do whatever we can to look after them, and if we can take away even a small bit of stress for Christmas then everyone is happy.

“There’s not long left, but we can still accommodate orders even this late on. If people want to pop in this week and see us we’ll see what we can do.”

Other independent traders worth considering this Christmas include Ibbitson’s butchers, which also stocks a large selection of fresh meat, or Parker’s Fresh Fish, both in Jacky Whites.

Of course, sometimes preparing meat and vegetables from scratch isn’t always ideal or possible for people with busy lives, and for that there are still some supermarket options in the city centre.

Tesco Metro in the Bridges and Marks and Spencer at High Street offer a selection of pre-packed options, whether you’re looking for meat, vegetables, desserts or just some special goodies to round off the most important meal of the year.

“Regardless of what people want when it comes to their Christmas food shopping, we have it all here in the city centre,” said Sharon Appleby, Head of Business Operations at Sunderland BID.

“For people who like the ease of being able to put the food in the oven and forget about it so they can spend more time with their families, our supermarkets have everything they need.

“Bur for those who enjoy preparing their vegetables and cooking a turkey from scratch, we have a wonderful choice of quality, local traders who sell everything they could possibly need.

“We are very proud of our city centre, and we know it has all the ingredients needed for a perfect Christmas.”