News

February 07, 2012 - Anonymous

Local market campaign won’t help high street long-term, say retail groups

A Government-backed scheme to encourage new traders to set up market stalls in their local town has been criticised by business groups.

The Love Your Local Market campaign will see budding retailers turn up on the day and pay a reduced price of £10 to rent a market stall – fees for a pitch are typically around £20 – as well as get tips and trading advice from seasoned traders or ‘market mentors’.

The initiative will run for a fortnight in markets across England between 23 June and 8 July and is being backed by council-run markets and private market groups.

It is the first response from the Government to the Portas Review, in which the retail guru Mary Portas set out how markets could become the testing ground for prospective shopkeepers to try their hand at running a low-cost business, as part of wider plans to rejuvenate British high streets.

But Shane Brennan, public affairs director at the Association of Convenience Stores, said the scheme was unlikely to help high street shops in the long-term.

“There is some evidence that having a strong market in a town does generate footfall in the high street, but it won’t necessarily help people set up small retail businesses and overall, it’s not going to have a massive effect,” he said.

“Instead, we would like to see some of the other issues highlighted in the Portas Review being taken seriously by the Government – restricting out-of-town retail developments that drive consumers away from small shops in town centres, for example, and giving free parking near high streets, which would really make a difference in encouraging visitors.”

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman refused to comment on the scheme, but said that full details of the Government’s response to the review would be published “in the next few weeks”.