New Moor market is stalling, say traders

Mick Cull President of market traders
Mick Cull President of market traders

Traders in the new Moor market voiced fears this week that its popularity is stalling.

A handful of businesses have quit, despite having a rent-free first six months, numbers of shoppers are falling, and the ending of the FreeBee bus service will make matters worse, it is claimed.

Council managers admitted in February they were having to rethink some aspects of the market, which opened last November at a cost of £18m.

Fourteen units were vacant, and it had been hoped to attract more food operators.

At the same time, the authority believes the relocation from Castlegate is proving successful, and it is argued there was always going to be a settling in period, with some stallholders discovering their ambitions would turn out to be less than fruitful.

Food store 7 Days of Heath, Whitlocks Fish Bar and a cafe have all ceased trading, and Jamaican food outlet Juicy Patties is the latest venture to give notice to the council.

Anton Smith, who runs Juicy Patties, said: “I came because the market bosses said they wanted to attract new customers with specialist food.

“I am selling, that’s not the problem. I am paying £26,000 a year for a box. I’d rather pack up than be in debt to the council. They’re not interested in helping you.”

Mick Cull, owner of Fruit Fayre and chairman of the Sheffield branch of National Market Traders’ Federation, said: “Some are only lasting a couple of months, footfall is down massively and going down every week.

“With Castle Market it was surrounded by other shops, you had buses and trams from everywhere in the city stopping there. The FreeBee bus was something the council used as a ploy. It’s a long walk for a lot of people down here. Unless the council listen to us and do something soon I really worry for the future of this place.”

Traders say they were promised 100,000 visitors a week, but claim the number in March was 57,000.

Council cabinet member Leigh Bramall said most businesses were doing well, and the council was doing everything it can to help them succeed.

“We can’t guarantee that every single business will be successful, but we are creating the conditions for a thriving first class market in the city and believe that overall this has been a success story in the first few months and we will do everything we can to help it to continue.”

“We have some great success stories already and have also seen some stall holders taking on new staff or apprentices and others moving to bigger stalls.”