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Northampton market traders say footfall is on the up but rainy days keeps shoppers away

More people are visiting the market this year, according to traders there, but not everyone says their income has increased as a result. Eamonn Fitzy Fitzgerald is pictured at his fruit and vegetable stall.

More people are visiting the market this year, according to traders there, but not everyone says their income has increased as a result. Eamonn Fitzy Fitzgerald is pictured at his fruit and vegetable stall.

Footfall on the Market Square has increased since the bus station was moved and free parking introduced, traders said, but any rainy days kept the punters away.

Fruit and vegetable stall holder, Eamonn ‘Fitzy’ Fitzpatrick, said the market was enjoying an increase in visitors, though there were mixed reports as to whether this had led to an increase in sales.

The feeling among traders is that town centre visitor numbers plummet on rainy days, as many were unwilling to wait at the Drapery in the wet for a bus.

Mr Fitzgerald said:“The parking is brilliant, but they should have done this 10 years ago. It’s the only thing that’s going to revive town centres, all over the country they’re going to copy this.”

But Les Brannan, who runs Rutherford’s key-cutting service, said market trading fortunes were now increasingly reliant on good weather.

He said: “On a wet day people won’t come into town now. Saturday was a good example, it was desolate.

“Before the bus station moved, people could get dropped off at Greyfriars and make their way to here virtually under shelter.”

That feeling was shared by others.

“People aren’t willing to wait in the Drapery,” said a hat-seller, who did not wish to be named.

“The free parking works on a nice day, but on the rainy days we actually get less people than before.”

The problem, he said, was likely to worsen in winter, although this week the borough council announced that a heating system was on its way to the North Gate bus station itself.

Council leader Councillor David Mackintosh, said: “We are currently looking into ways of how we can keep the building warm in the winter months and cool during the summer.

“A new heating system is on order and will be installed in the autumn.”

But Anne Macdonald, who runs an underwear stall, said footfall was just one part of a larger retail issue, as the increase in visitors had not led to an increase in trade.

“It’s because people are struggling,” she said.

“I’m 50 per cent down on last year, but I’m doing my best to increase my lines.”

 

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