Is it weather or Cornhill work that is behind the woes of Ipswich market?
PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 April 2018 | UPDATED: 12:47 23 April 2018
Market traders in Ipswich have been given rent-free pitches until the end of May as their sales continue to be affected by the rebuilding work on the town’s Cornhill.
But bosses at Ipswich Council say there is little more they can do to stimulate trade until the first phase of the Cornhill reconstruction is completed during the summer.
Market traders are worried that business is significantly down this year because potential customers rush past the stalls at the top of Princes Street without stopping to browse or circulate and buy goods.
One trader said: “We had warned that things could be difficult but actually it’s turned out to be worse than anyone thought – takings are down and I don’t know how many of us will survive until the end of the year.”
He said traders accepted the Cornhill was being redeveloped – but would have preferred to have pitches along Tavern Street and Westgate Street rather than in their current sites.
Ipswich Council leader David Ellesmere said he did not think anyone in the town was unaware of the market’s current location.
He said: “We have been talking to the traders constantly since the plan for the Cornhill work was drawn up – and this is continuing.
“They are trading rent-free until the end of May and there are signs pointing to the market – and after all the publicity I cannot think anyone in the town is any doubt about where to find the market. I really don’t know what more we can do.”
Mr Ellesmere was not convinced all the problems were down to the Cornhill work.
He said: “The weather has been very bad – many retailers have been hit. I’m not sure that many people would have been circulating around the stalls during February and March even if they had been on the Cornhill.”
Major retailers including Debenhams said this year’s bad weather seriously hit their financial results.
Official government figures later this week are expected to show that the bad weather will have hit growth across the economy during the first quarter of 2018.
Retailers bore the brunt of the extreme weather, which saw people stay away from the high street, and contributed to the growth in the Gross Domestic Product in the economy fall from a predicted 0.4% to just 0.2 during the three-month period.