Internet shopping and superstores a threat to market

Hucknall market
Hucknall market

A RALLYING-call has been made for local shoppers to support Hucknall’s struggling Friday market and help it survive the impact of Internet shopping and the popularity of supermarkets.

A scrutiny panel investigation set up by Ashfield District Council is looking at how the town’s market, as well as Kirkby’s and Sutton’s, can be made more viable.

A report to the panel this week said markets had suffered through the growth of superstores and online bargain-hunting.

Consultations with the stall-holders pinpointed a need to improve signs to the markets, boost stall occupancy rates and bring in more innovative advertising to encourage new traders and increase footfall.

Other suggestions are to hold regular promotional events, especially during seasonal periods such as Christmas, Easter and Hallowe’en.

These could include Santa Claus grottos, choirs, activities for families and community awareness initiatives.

Further ideas are themed and specialist markets such as car-boot sales, farmers’ markets and Christmas markets.

There was a lot of concern about empty stalls.

Possible initiatives are to develop a markets project opportunity with a college or university and to offer incentives for start-up stallholders, such as reduced rent for the first month.

Coun Chris Baron, a Hucknall Labour member of Ashfield Council, said the town’s market was restricted by a covenant from the Duke of Portland, which allowed only one market a week.

He agreed that markets had been hard hit by new shopping trends such as the ability to buy online.

“The German market held on Nottingham’s Old Market Square over the Christmas period was a popular attraction but I don’t know if something similar would work in Hucknall,” said Coun Baron. “A Continental market held in Hucknall did draw quite a lot of people but this was because many were curious about it.

“This is a tough time for markets generally speaking.

“I don’t know what the answer is but I support any initiative aimed at reviving Hucknall’s market, which is a vital part of the town-centre scene. Markets complement shops and vice-versa.”