35% OF MARKETS MAY NEVER REOPEN
A new national survey of market operators by the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) has resulted in over a third of traditional indoor and street markets across the UK sending back a very clear message to government – “the future of our markets is at risk”.
The NABMA Survey was conducted to provide evidence to government of the devastating impact of COVID – 19 on the markets industry.
Nearly 100 market operators, representative of over 300 UK markets, provided a range of information. This reveals that since March, only 22% of their markets at present have any trading taking place. Footfall in those markets has dropped by between 80% and 90%.
Of the greatest concern is that 35% of operators, from both private and local authority markets, now fear their markets may never open again. That figure could increase as markets that have been forced to close may struggle to start back due to the logistics of safely introducing social distancing to protect their market staff, traders and customers.
Despite the doom and gloom the research highlights that since the lockdown the overwhelming majority of operators are fully supporting their market traders in some financial or practical manner. These measures include free trading or deferred rents; support for click and collect; delivery services and setting up online trading. Guidance is also being provided for claiming government business support grants.
The purpose of the Survey was to evidence to government, high street leaders and the markets industry the importance of the NABMA Support Plan for Markets. This Plan seeks financial help from government for both market traders and operators to get markets back up and running again. It also looks to the future to promote markets and market trading as part of a national business start-up programme.
As many traders can now benefit from business support measures as already available from government, then a specific request is made for a similar support package to be made available to market operators. Local authority operators, in particular, are experiencing huge losses of rental income that currently fall outside of any current government business support.
NABMA Chief Executive David Preston said:
“The message from market operators is both loud and clear. Markets have been at the heart of shaping and supporting their local communities for centuries. Without urgent government financial support then it is now possible that over a third of the current market network in the UK could disappear.
“Tragically, that will mean that many markets, and many small businesses, will be lost at a time when they can have such an important role to play in the recovery and future of town and city centres.”