We know that many Markets have been doing a fantastic job since the outbreak of COVID-19 providing food supplies to their local communities. Earlier this week NABMA secured confirmation that Indoor Markets can extend their opening arrangements and offer additional goods. Outdoor Markets still remain closed except for food products.However we are hoping that in June both Indoor and Outdoor Markets will be able to open fully.
The NABMA Team has been talking to many operators and traders over the last few days and it is worthwhile passing on some of the comments and issues that are in peoples minds.
- We have already urged you to talk to traders to find out what they feel about returning to the Market(s). While many traders will want to return as soon as possible, the information NABMA is receiving indicates a reluctance among a significant number of traders to return at the present time. Many reasons are quoted for taking this position but it will be necessary to consider what action is taken if traders feel they want to delay their returnOne operator has mentioned that they are prepared to keep the trader pitches/stalls available for a limited time before making a final decision about the future. Members will need to consider what policy they are prepared to adopt in this situation.
- Hopefully we will soon get some clarity about when Markets can open fully but if, for example, the government announces that Markets can open from the 1st June that does not mean you are obliged to open from that date.You will already be aware of the requirements of social distancing and other aspects of the government’s policy to combat COVID-19. NABMA is doing all it can to provide meaningful advice and keep you up to date with information from government. However we do not underestimate the task facing many Markets in complying with the requirements of social distancing etc.In order to fully comply extra resources might be needed to manage the Market. While members will want to consult with traders about how arrangements will work the ultimate decision on whether a Market opens resides with the market operator. NABMA’s advice on Indoor Market Halls suggests that in the initial stages consideration should be given to reduced opening hours, rotating traders and other measures that provide a phased return to ensure that the reopening of Markets takes place successfully.
- The results of our survey shows that the vast majority of our members have been doing a great job in helping traders with various support packages. The reopening of Markets is still likely to mean that traders will need help. The impact of COVID-19 has destroyed public confidence in going out. The very things which make Markets so attractive are challenges we now have to overcome to ensure the continued survival and success of our industry.A comment on Basecamp yesterday indicates that at one Market, that had reopened, footfall was very low. This is likely to be the case for some weeks at least until confidence begins to return. The reluctance of shoppers to visit the Market means that for many traders returning to the Market is a significant challenge. While we recognise, from the results of our survey, that the cost of lost fees & charges has already been enormous it might be necessary to consider an extension of some kind of support to “kick start” the reopening of Markets.
- It is hardly surprising that many of our members feel overwhelmed by the current situation. However it is important to stress the support that NABMA has already provided and continues to provide.We have already secured significant financial help for traders and a commitment that the business rates on markets will be considered as part of an ongoing review of business rates. We have a meeting with government on Monday where we intend to press other aspects of our Five Point Plan and particularly support for market operators.Beyond these general issues NABMA is the place where you can get the best advice, help and support at any time. Basecamp has been a real asset providing a Forum for discussion and good practice.The NABMA Team have been answering specific queries on a daily basis. Beyond the NABMA Team we have a group of experienced market officers who act as “Buddies” available to be a local contact point to assist with an issues you want to raise. Information about the NABMA Team and our “Buddies” can be found on the NABMA website at www.nabma.com.
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