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Traders Battle New Sunday Market Plans

The battles lines are being drawn over Coventry’s Sunday market as organisers have applied to extend it for another year.

Traders at Coventry Retail Market have objected to the plan to continue the outside market throughout next year.

They say the stalls are having a bad impact on the indoor market and are combining with disruption caused by the redevelopment work in the Lower Precinct.

But the City Centre Company, responsible for the new scheme, says the new market is attracting a lot more people to the city at a time when it is crucial to win new visitors to stave off competition from other towns.

The city council’s planning committee will decide whether to extend the scheme next week.

Martin Stockdale, commercial manager at the City Centre Company, said the number of people shopping in the city centre on Sundays has shown a big increase compared to last year.

He said:

“We are very positive about it. We feel that it’s bringing more people into the city centre.

“We believe it is beneficial to the whole of Coventry, including the retail market.

“We don’t have time to wait for the redevelopment to finish because of the threat from Birmingham, Solihull and may be the new arena. We’ve got to capture customers now otherwise we will lose them forever.”

He added that the plan was to run the market permanently. Delays meant this year’s market didn’t start until November, so it covered a similar period to last year’s experiment in bond Street.

Although fewer people come into the city centre on a Sunday in the summer, Mr Stockdale said many of those had come in with the intention to buy goods, and purchases held steady.

But Dave Betts, secretary of the Coventry branch of the Retail Market Traders’ Federation, said many traders wouldn’t bother coming to the city on a Sunday in the summer because they could take their stalls to boot fairs.

He added that traders in the retail market were struggling because of the combination of the redevelopment and the Sunday trade.

Some of the retail market traders have taken stalls outside on the Sunday to compete, but lose their sole day off.

Mr Betts said:

“I think the City Centre Company can only think of markets at the moment. My own fear is they’ll start an outside one on Saturdays and other days of the week.”

Mr Betts also criticised the decision to put the planning application in now, as traders were too busy with the Christmas rush to prepare a campaign about it.

Mr Stockdale said the new market would give the retail market a chance to consider a long term strategy – something he said most retailers are reluctant to do.

He said:

“In the long term they should be selling things that people can’t get anywhere else to attract shoppers.”
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The Giant Card Company, Coventry

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CWN / Business / A-Z / City Centre Company Coventry / 15 Dec 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM