As Newcastle’s outdoor market traders are preparing to return to town-centre trading, the Council has offered all stall-holders six-weeks rent-free to help them get back on their feet and to attract new traders.
The general market in Newcastle-under-Lyme will re-open on Friday 5 June, with the Antique market set to restart on Tuesday 16 June. The general market will be back on Fridays and Saturdays, initially, with the Farmers’ Market planning to resume on the third Friday of every month.
The rules and restrictions of lockdown meant that the market had to close, although many traders adapted their business model to secure a new customer base for delivery services during the closure. Re-opening the market is an important first step to re-opening the town centre as a whole over the coming weeks.
Shoppers will see some significant but necessary changes as COVID-19 Secure measures will be in place to ensure safety for both traders and shoppers. These include social distancing measures such as floor markings and new signage, and gaps kept between stalls.
Traders stalls will be arranged to allow extra space for shoppers to self-distance on High Street and they will be encouraged to develop a ‘click-and-collect’ option to introduce cashless payment for their customers.
Deputy Leader of the Council, Stephen Sweeney, said: “We will be really pleased to see the market return. The outdoor market has been at the heart of the town in Newcastle for centuries and, as far as we know, the coronavirus outbreak is the first time it has been forced to close. As well as the COVID-19 Secure measures we’re introducing we’ve seen improvements to the stalls layout made during the lockdown to enhance the customer experience and there are more
plans in the pipeline.
“We are working on new lighting to make sure that the market can trade later into the day in future
to take advantage of being part of the evening economy in the town.”
While the return of the market is welcomed, the Council has stressed that disciplines around social distancing, hand washing and other measures are still vital in keeping infection rates down and encourages shoppers to observe the guidance.
The Council is working closely with the town’s market traders and the Town Centre Business Improvement District (BID) to enable a smooth return and preparations are well underway. The Council has maintained contact with the market traders throughout the lockdown using a newsletter and social media. The Council’s Twitter and Facebook accounts have also shone a spotlight on some of the independent town centre businesses who need support during extremely difficult times.