'Shoppers need to start spending': Stark warning as market trade plummets
Worried market traders say shoppers need to start spending again, despite an apparent surge in people heading for Castleford town centre.
Wakefield Council has said footfall in both Pontefract and Castleford has doubled in a fortnight as lockdown eases, but stall holders say this is not being reflected in sales.
Paul Whitaker, who runs a stall selling smoking materials on Castleford’s weekly market, said: “It seems there are a lot of people milling about but they are not spending.
“The first week back was okay, but it has tailed off. I suppose the weather hasn’t helped.
“We appreciate people are scared to go out and what’s around the corner, but a lot of people’s shopping habits have changed, like doing shopping online or stocking up, and people have got used to it we need something to help persuade them back.”
He said that Wakefield Council has agreed half rents until July, but they are hoping to push for a variable rent agreement.
Mr Whitaker said: “We just want a fair crack, it would be nice if the rent was in line with footfall.”
Leah Rodgers, who runs Dolly Daydreams sweetshop and Minnie Moonshine’s gothic shop in Castleford Indoor Market, said trade has simply plummeted.
She said: “It’s been very quiet indoors and footfall is nowhere near where it was before lockdown.
“I could be stood here a few hours and not get a single person pass by. Lockdown obviously hasn’t helped, but the decline has been coming for a while.
“There’s a stigma around markets that it is selling old tat, but it all needs modernising.
“If you look at the Wool Market in Doncaster, it’s privately owned and it’s modern and feels up and coming, and you get young people in there spending.”
Meanwhile, the council says it is investing in the markets to the tune of £4.8 million.
Mark Lynam, Wakefield Council’s corporate director for regeneration and economic growth, said: “Markets are great places to visit and are important for many residents and communities in our district.
“We continue to encourage people to visit the markets, and we look forward to welcome more visitors over the coming months.”