Traders at Sheffield’s The Moor Market are joining forces in a bid to keep the site fully open during a second national lockdown.
If the lockdown is passed by MPs today, they say the city-centre venue should be treated like major supermarkets as it ‘is safer and has strict capacity controls.’ warning some of the markets 70 independent traders could face ruin if they are not allowed trade for the next month.
Not all shops will be forced to close when a second national lockdown starts on Thursday, with those selling essential items including vegetables, meat and ingredients, allowed to remain open.
However, stalls selling ‘non-essential’ goods must close their doors. Traders facing closure argue that supermarkets have entire aisles selling non-essential goods and are demanding that their stalls be treated the same.
Tom Bullivant, owner of Smokey Sam’s, which is one of the shops deemed non-essential and set to close under the impending restrictions, said: “It’s hard enough competing with supermarkets as it is. Despite the fantastic quality, knowledge and value that the market traders offer. But why you can buy a microwave in Tesco but not in the market eludes me.
“The Moor Market is safer. It’s airier, roomier and has strict capacity controls. Shutting non-essential stores will drive people back to the supermarkets or force them on to Amazon.
“It feels like independents are being penalised for not being corporate enough. Our ‘aisles’ are managed by experts from our local economy and community. People want one big shop online or in-store. We believe ours is better and safer than going to the big six supermarkets.”
The National Association of British Market Authorities and the National Market Traders’ Federation have started a ‘parity with supermarkets’ petition. It states: ‘Markets across the UK have been at the heart of our towns, cities and communities for centuries and have a proven track record in supplying local people with food and goods.
‘As England enters another period of lockdown, we demand that the Government give markets parity with supermarkets in terms of the supply of essential and non-essential goods during this period. Markets should be allowed to remain fully open.’
Traders hope the government will clarify the issue in their favour later today.