Market traders fear Christmas is ‘ruined’ after festive version opens
PUBLISHED: 12:21 11 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:59 11 December 2019
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Market stall holders in Norwich say the arrival of a festive version just a stone’s throw away could ruin their Christmas trade.
Last year, a large outdoor Christmas market at the Forum left traders at the city's permanent market frustrated.
They said it had a "massive impact" on trade, but said assurances were given that the same event would not be held again.
But a row has erupted after a smaller festive market opened outside the Forum on Wednesday, with Mark Wright, chairman of the Norwich Market Traders Association and owner of Taxi Vintage Clothing, saying traders only found out via an email on Friday.
"Christmas is so important to the traders that it runs into the following year," he said. "It's massive.
"Norwich is in possession of an award-winning market. It's the best market in the country. It's got fantastic goods and fantastic produce, you could take a hamper here and fill it up and it would be as good as anything from Harrods. Our Christmas is being ruined again."
But Tim Bishop, chief executive of The Forum Trust, said: "We have every sympathy with the market traders who stand out in the cold and rain and make the market what it is, which is one of the best things about shopping in Norwich.
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"We would not aim to do anything that damages the market, but I think what the Forum does is create events and activities which benefit the whole city centre."
He said they only received confirmation the market was going ahead on Friday, but understood that traders felt it "came without much warning".
"Nobody wants the market to suffer," he said. "Christmas is really important for all traders, but this is a different offer."
He said there were fewer stalls than last year, and that their proximity to the main market heightened concerns, adding that it may have gone unnoticed if it was held in another venue.
But Mr Wright said, in a challenging climate, it was the last thing traders needed.
"Every year the amount of online shopping goes up," he said. "We are fighting for less customers, the last thing we need is another obstacle."