More help for traders needed, NMTF CEO tells council bosses

THE NMTF has contacted more than 800 local authority chief executives and leaders to highlight the effect the COVID-19 crisis is having not only on market traders but on the retail markets industry as a whole.

CEO Joe Harrison has told them that:

Many outdoor and indoor markets have been closed when they can be open for the sale of essential items such as food and groceries

Many traders who are unable to trade because either their market is closed or because they sell non-essential items are being told they must continue to pay rent.

“There may be a few exceptions because of their location and layout, but in the main both outdoor and indoor markets should be open to provide shoppers with the essentials they need, particularly in terms of fresh food such as fish, meat and greengrocery,” he said in a special email.

He added that obviously there had to be strict observance on social distancing but there was no reason this could not be achieved in a joint effort between traders and market management.

“Indeed it could be argued that in many cases social distancing can be better managed on markets than in supermarkets.”

He said that at the end of this crisis the markets industry could be in a position to be at the forefront of a campaign for retail recovery.

“But the fact is that, although some traders are in a position to claim grants to help their businesses, many others fall through the net.

“Crucially the cash grants proposed by Government are only for businesses in receipt of the Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Relief.

“Many traders, especially on outdoor markets, simply do not qualify.”

And even those who could obtain grants would need the money to prop up their businesses, Joe told them.

“Whatever the situation paying rents for a stall or unit that cannot be used is a burden that will see many of these small businesses disappear.

“That in turn means that when markets are fully open again there may not be that many traders around, which would not augur well for the industry.”