OUT IN THE COLD!
TRADERS SAY NEW XMAS MARKET LAYOUT HAS LEFT THEM ‘SEGREGATED’ WITH FEWER CUSTOMERS
TRADERS at Manchester’s Christmas Markets have hit out over the restructured site at Albert Square, claiming it has left them ‘segregated’ and struggling to make money.
Several of the wooden stalls have been moved out of the main square and on to the road – outside Slug and Lettuce and Duttons – to make way for renovation works at the town hall.
But traders on the new plots have complained of low footfall, terrible takings and security issues.
Some people claim they were not told about the move until they arrived to set up their stalls.
Every trader the M.E.N. spoke to asked not to be named, but all share the same concerns and frustrations.
One trader, who has been at the markets for 15 years, said: “They’ve always been great, but unfortunately this year they’ve shoved us in the street.
“We’re not in the markets, we’re not in the square. We’re completely segregated. There’s just no footfall. It’s been pathetic.
“I’ve closed up for the day. I refuse to stand here in the cold for 12 hours when there’s no one here.”
The on-street pitches are also along a thoroughfare for night-time revellers, which stallholders say brought more problems over the opening weekend.
Another trader, who has been part of the markets for over a decade, reported issues relating to security.
They said: “We’re not fenced in. On the first night I was still setting up, it was 10 at night and I had a group of lads harassing me here.
“The square is fenced in so you’ve got your safe environment to get your boxes out and set everything up without being bothered.
“It’s quite busy here on Friday night, people are walking past the stand. A security guard had to come and stand with me while I finished off.”
Another stall-holder who has been part of the markets for years, said: “It’s fantastic, it’s great. In terms of revenue it’s great but in terms of the buzz too.
“But it’s awful this year. It shows in the figures in terms of how much we’ve not taken, but there’s no buzz around the stall.”
Another trader added: “It’s not the council’s fault.
“I look at it from both sides - we technically aren’t on Albert Square, we’re on the road that goes around it. But on the map this road is called Albert Square. They’ve done their best to keep us on the market.”
Coun Pat Karney said: “This is a new area for trading on Albert Square, which overall has a reduced footprint this year as the town hall project continues. “We have tried to accommodate as many traders as possible who would otherwise not be able to trade at the markets this year.
“However, we try and do everything we can to support our stall holders. Already we have organised seating and new signage is on its way.
“I hope this will encourage more people to take the time to look around this part of Albert Square.
“We also hope the increased seating will help support any visitors with mobility issues.
“As an added draw the incredibly popular Birdie’s free selfie van will relocate to this part of Albert Square, along with a new busking area to help attract the crowds,” he said.
I’ve closed for the day. I refuse to stand here in the cold for 12 hours when there is no-one here
Trader whose stall is outside the main part of Albert Square
Some of the stalls are now outside the main square and on the road