This is the full text of CEO Joe Harrison’s email message to market operators:
I hope you are safe and well.
I am writing to you about the situation regarding NMTF members trading on markets all over the country who have been forced to close due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
As their trade body, we ask that if market traders are unable to work from their units or stalls that they are given a payment holiday or a concession on their rent.
We hope that traders selling essential goods on your market(s) have been supported to stay open with social distancing measures in place.
Some operators are assisting traders to provide delivery services, which is fantastic to see. It is vital that traders continue to serve their local communities at this time of hardship and stress.
We need markets selling food to stay open to help communities through this crisis. You may have seen an article from Sustain last weekend that highlighted this need.
Our colleagues at the University of Leeds are standing by us to make the argument to keep markets open for traders selling essential goods. They have written you a letter, click here to read it.
If you have closed your market(s) to traders who sell essential goods, I ask you to reconsider this with some urgency. Only markets can provide the real alternative to supermarkets.
We’ve heard reports that market operators are continuing to charge rent to traders selling non-essential goods on both indoor and outdoor markets.
And at a time when there is no money coming in, some market operators are expecting traders to pay full rent for a unit or stall that they are unable to use for the foreseeable future.
Not all traders are eligible for financial support from the government. Some are falling through the cracks. And if they are eligible for such support these grants are intended to keep their businesses afloat.
I understand that as a market operation there are bills and people to pay. But I honestly fear for the livelihoods of traders and for the future of our country’s markets when this pandemic is over.
Now is the time to show goodwill and generosity. I ask that you show market traders some care. And when this over, markets will be where our communities come together to heal.
Given that we are all in this together as a markets industry, I ask again:
Keep your market(s) open for traders who sell essential goods. If you have closed your market(s) – please reconsider and reopen.
If market traders are unable to work from their units or stalls – please give them a rent payment holiday or a concession on their rent.
To end on a brighter note, there are many positive examples of how market operators and traders are working together for the benefit of the communities they serve.