It’s true, chocolate box market towns of Lincolnshire have had a pummeling from the internet. But whether it’s for the tradition, the footfall to surrounding businesses or simply the opportunity for neighbourly interaction, the market must still have a place in our local communities.
This is certainly the view of forward-thinking local traders, who are facing the challenge of clawing back their social and economic purpose.
In rural Louth this week, where only Aldi has breached the defence against modern retail giants, a group of independent traders presented a report to their local council arguing the integral role of the market on the area’s identity. Louth Independent Traders’ investigation is aimed to improve the district’s markets and seize them as a generator of overall prosperity for the town.
The problem is, in 2017/18, most of the East Lindsey District Council-run markets made a loss. Last year, the deficit was £79,347 with just a percentage scraped back by car parking charges. If it was to be abandoned, the group argues 20% of Louth’s businesses could fail.
“Markets contribute to town vibrancy and social life, and their measurable increase to town centre footfall on market days supports other retailers, contributing to the sustainability of a town,” said panel chairman and councillor Ros Jackson.
If local councils and entrepreneurs are to invest in the idea of a marketplace renaissance, the marketplace as we know it must be prepared to get with the times. Sometimes, the case for a more selective array is the key. Leaders in struggling town centres have expressed a recent enthusiasm for food.
‘Flavour of the month’ market reinventions may prove the saviour of the traditional market as the ever salivating British public is drawn to instant treats and necessities – the exception to the internet shopping phenomenon. In Lincoln, annual continental food markets have recently been met with the addition of weekly Foodie Fridays, featuring a fleet of vans and stalls serving steaming curries, vegan cuisine and local delicacies.
According to recent research by OnBuy.com, there was “extraordinary growth in the number of independent stores opened in the UK last year, however the East of England bucked this positive trend. Key growth sectors were beauty salons, cafes and tearooms and convenience stores. By creating vibrant shopping hubs that compliment growing experience, dining and convenience sectors (while also offering a cost effective alternative to bricks and mortar for new business start-ups) revived markets could be just the medicine for the towns the UK economy forgot.
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