News Coronavirus Food Alert

Trade body issues urgent call to re-open retail markets with 65 per cent closed

The National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) has labelled the closure of markets ‘a farce’, as new data reveals two-thirds of traders have been forced to close by market or licensing authorities. 

Credit: Ruth Westcott

Credit: Ruth Westcott

An appeal to keep both indoor and outdoor markets open so that they can meet social needs and preserve livelihoods has been made by the organisation representing market traders. The 20,000-strong NMTF says its members are angry and frustrated because whilst supermarkets have remained open throughout the crisis, more over 65 per cent of markets have been closed. 

NMTF CEO Joe Harrison said:

“This is a farce and the Government must do something to address this anomaly. There seems to be strange notion that social distancing is easier in an indoor market, but from our observations that is not the case. The scientists have said we are safer outside than inside so where is the sense in this legislation?”

He said the idea that garden centres had been allowed to reopen when many of them had similar layouts to outdoor markets was nonsensical.

“We are hoping traders in England can at least go back to work on June 1 when the Government is suggesting restrictions will be eased. But we are saying more traders should be allowed to go back now so that when the time for real easing comes everyone will know what to do.” 

Two thirds of stallholders reported that they were forced to close by their market authority (either local Councils or a private authority) – as opposed to traders themselves suffering staff or supply shortages. The survey also revealed that 70% businesses report that turnover is down – most around £20k or less, and between 8 to 16% expect to close their businesses permanently. Around a third of the estimated 32,000 retail market traders in the UK expect to receive no financial support from the Government.

Sustain’s Keep Markets Open campaign has been calling for local authorities to re-open food markets as soon as possible, and encouraging supporters to write to local councillors.

Ben Reynolds, deputy CEO of Sustain said:

"Food markets offer vital affordable food, support short supply chains and sustainable producers, and help take pressure off supermarkets and other Council services. We have seen markets operating safely and successfully across the country, with good social distancing, signage and support from their authorities, so councils and market authorities must re-open food markets as soon as possible."

More results from the COVID-19 impact survey can be found on the NMTF website 

Please TAKE ACTION by asking your councillor to re-open and support your local market

Published Monday 18 May 2020

Coronavirus Food Alert: Sustain's work on food resilience in the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.We are helping secure food for vulnerable people and supporting local emergency responses.

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