Pudsey market dates back to Victorian times and remains a traditional local market and a main feature of life in the town.
It has a loyal customer base and has been bedrock of the community for generations, but recently trade has started to dwindle. ANNA RILEY went along to the market and reports on how the fortunes of the market could be turned around.
Listen to the views of traders and shoppers:
Pudsey market has been at its current site since 1964 and was refurbished in 2007, with £260,000 being spent on new stalls, paving, ramps for disabled access and security cameras, all in an effort to boost the town’s economy.
It is open for business three days a week on a Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 8.30am to 2.30pm with food, drink, flowers, clothing and more on offer.
Most of the stallholders are locals and their businesses have been passed down through their families for them to continue. However, their livelihoods may be at risk due to a down turn in custom and sales.
The general consensus from speaking to the traders was that they will continue to set up their stalls at the market as it is part of their livelihoods. As long as customers keep coming to the market, the traders will also keep coming.
Nevertheless, there was some concern from the sellers that online shopping and the ease and accessibility of supermarket shopping may eventually signal the end to market trade as we know it.
Not all the traders knew what the solution to the issue could be, but some suggested an increase in advertising for the market, more parking nearby and overhead coverage for poor weather conditions may be the answer to increasing customer numbers.
Daniel Lee, owner of Michael’s Quality Fish Stall said:
“It was only about five years ago when people were queuing to get in to the market.
“Now there is hardly anyone here. As long as my customers keep coming though, I’ll keep coming.”
Yvonne Robinson, a handbag seller said:
“Most of my customers are more mature ladies. I don’t really see many young people coming to the market or looking at my stand.
“I think most of them probably shop online. I don’t really know what the solution is to get more people to come here, maybe it’s just the way things are going, but overhead coverage for when it rains could improve things.”
However, some traders still had quite a positive outlook on market life.
Jayne Hutton, whose fruit stall has been in the family for 65 years, said:
“I get my regulars and I’m really happy with the success of my business so far.
“I have recently taken over from my mum who has retired and I’m trying to get new clientele, which has been going really well so far.
“I’m up at three in the morning to get to the wholesalers for the fruit and veg that we sell, but I wouldn’t change it.”
After speaking to customers at the market, a few common issues became apparent.
These were that as the market is outdoors, shoppers can be put off from visiting when there are poor weather conditions, as there is no overhead shelter.
Another was that a ‘chicken and egg’ situation seems to have occurred with customers saying that they are sometimes put off attending by the lack of traders that turn up on market days.
However, this is most likely a result of the lack of customers that turn up on market days when those traders do attend.
Mary Farrer, a shopper who attends the market on a weekly basis, said:
“I do support the market and have done for years, but it is a shame that there are now not as many stalls to look around.
“If the traders aren’t here to sell their wares, how can we buy them and keep coming every week if they don’t turn up?”
Geoff Jackson, another regular at the market, said he had seen a lot of changes over the years. He added:
“I have been coming here since I was a young lad and used to work on the stalls for a bit of pocket money.
“I only live next door so I will definitely keep coming, but maybe if they made it an indoor market, it could encourage more people to come.”
Leeds City Council is responsible for running the market and have reiterated their commitment to making the market a success.
A Leeds City Council spokesperson said in a statement:
“We remain absolutely committed as a council to supporting Pudsey Market and its traders.
“This has included providing discounted rents to traders and a loyalty scheme offering free trading days after 11 consecutive attendances.
“We are always looking at ways in which to improve both the foot fall and general offer at Pudsey Market, and will be continuing to work closely with traders to see how this can be achieved.”
What do you think? If you have any thoughts or suggestions about how the market could be improved, post a comment below.