A Louth trader group has said 20% of the town’s businesses could fail if the weekly market ceased to exist.
Gary Denniss, chairman of Louth Independent Traders, said cafes and coffee shops in particular would be affected.
He was responding to East Lindsey District Council’s Market Scrutiny Panel’s investigation into the future of the authority’s markets.
In documents before councillors on Tuesday, he tells members: “The three weekly markets are an integral part of the town and most businesses in the town rely on markets to bring footfall to the town.
“The major benefit is to food and coffee shops but other retailers see an increase to footfall, however there are some sectors that see a decrease as locals don’t come into town on market days as it is too busy for them.”
Mr Denniss said challenges came in the form of costs, and accepted that there weren’t enough stall holders, but said changes to the cultural offering would have a positive impact on the town.
The panel’s investigation aims to improve the district’s markets and to make them run “optimally”.
Panel chairman Ros Jackson said in the documents: “The retail world is undergoing changes as spending shifts online and the reasons people visit town centres change”
She points to rises in online shopping and says that between 2015-2017, East Lindsey’s takings from markets fell from £123,000 to £103,000.
In 2017/18 most of the ELDC-run markets were “loss making” with a deficit of £79,347 in 2017/18 with some savings made through car parking.
“Yet markets are so crucial to local identity in East Lindsey’s inland towns that they feature in their very name ‐ market towns,” says Councillor Jackson.
“Markets contribute to town vibrancy and social life, and their measurable increase to town centre footfall on market days supports brick‐and‐mortar retailers, contributing to the sustainability of a town.”
The documents conclude that the authority’s current markets budget is justified.
Councillors will on Tuesday be given reports on enforcement, signage, anti-social behaviour concerns and the success of markets such as Spilsby which has seen a 300% rise in stall numbers since its town council intervened.
Recommendations include creating a five-year plan, further investments, employing a supervisor to enforce regulations and changes to payment systems as well as creating new initiatives to encourage young people and addressing anti-social behaviour concerns.
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