HEXHAM’S Tuesday market was given a boost this week thanks to a visit from the National Market Traders’ Federation.
NMTF officials met with Northumberland County Council’s market manager Neil Brown to hear about steps to revitalise the offer in the town centre.
New stallholders were invited along to the Market Place for the occasion with many grateful for a steady stream of customers.
As well as the usual plants, fruit and vegetables, confectionery and clothing stalls, new traders sold cakes, coffee, handbags and gifts.
“It’s lovely to see it looking so good and so busy,” said Maureen Steele, a regular trader in Hexham with her fashion stall.
“It’s sometimes a vicious circle,” said Joanna Jackson, who runs the Sweets, Sweets, Sweets stall. “We get new traders along one week and they don’t do well so don’t bother coming back, and that puts the customers off from returning, so it’s a difficult one.
“But we’re doing all we can to attract new people.”
Mr Brown said the county council was playing its part by keeping daily rents low and offering special discounts to returning traders.
“It’s been a difficult year so far across the county, for markets and retailers in general, because people seem to be holding on to their money more or choosing to spend it online,” said Mr Brown.
“There’s quite a large out-of-town retail offer in Hexham now too, so getting people into the town centre can be a challenge.
“But we’re working with Hexham Town Council and hopefully the BID team, to look at introducing things like colour co-ordinated canopies.
“Raising awareness of the markets and attracting the younger generation to use them and become the stallholders of the future, is so important.”
The Market Place in Hexham can accommodate up to 20 stalls, including the space beneath the historic Shambles.
A dedicated hardcore of traders make an appearance six days a week, while numbers rise for the Tuesday and farmers’ markets on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month.
Nicola Holland, who works with her husband Roy to produce the Market Times magazine on behalf of the NMTF, said: “Markets are the life blood of so many market towns and often don’t get the recognition they deserve.”