Market traders reveal battle to attract customers amid rising costs

Dereham Market traders Paul Bardsley (left) and Richard Wright 

Dereham Market traders Paul Bardsley (left) and Richard Wright - Credit: Archant

Dereham's market traders have revealed the growing challenges they face in their bid to keep attracting customers amid the cost of living crisis.

Regular sellers in the Market Place said they had seen an obvious decline in footfall in recent months - while their own costs continue to rise. 

Busy Market Place in Dereham, with people out and about in comparison to one year ago during the fir

People out shopping in Dereham Market Place - Credit: Denise Bradley

While coronavirus has threatened the survival of hundreds of Norfolk businesses, problems have been compounded by the increasing cost of energy, food and fuel.  

On Friday (April 1), Dereham Market seemed relatively quiet, with a steady flow of customers braving the cold weather. 

Richard Wright, market manager for Fountain Fresh, revealed the greengrocer was doing its best to absorb costs. 

"We're feeling a bit like everybody," he said.

"We've got 12 lorries that go out every day, so our fuel costs have gone through the roof. We've got quite a big warehouse and it's the same story with the electric there.

Richard Wright, market manager for Fountain Fresh, pictured at Dereham Market

Richard Wright, market manager for Fountain Fresh, pictured at Dereham Market - Credit: Archant

"You can't put it all onto your customers or people won't buy from you. We know everybody else is in the same boat, so we try and absorb costs as best we can. 

"People are being wiser with their shopping, checking prices a bit more, but they understand that about 95pc of what we sell is cheaper than in supermarkets."

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Paul Bardsley, who has brought PB Socks and More to the market for 10 years, said he had no option but to raise prices. 

He said: "Everything's going up, rent included. It's been tough and it's only going to get worse from now.

"I've got to put the prices up. Any new stock that comes in now, all the prices are going to go up 20pc.

Paul Bardsley, who runs PB Socks and More, pictured at Dereham Market

Paul Bardsley, who runs PB Socks and More, pictured at Dereham Market - Credit: Archant

"People were staying away because of Covid, and since the price of fuel went up you notice there is not half as much footfall."

Meanwhile, Paul Chapman, who runs Orchard End Nursery and has been coming to Dereham for 30 years, said his best customers were buying far less frequently. 

"With this product it's all non-necessity, so the rising cost of living has definitely affected trade," he added. 

"It's difficult to say, but we are probably 15-20pc down in takings. 

"We are still seeing regulars - but not as regularly. Whereas we would see them every week, you now see them once a month because they are limiting their spending."