'We won't survive': Halifax Market traders woes amid COVID-19 outbreak

Business in Halifax's market is on a knife edge amid 'panic-buying' according to many of its traders.

Although there has been an increase on trade off the back of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the main customers for the market - the elderly which are most vulnerable to the deadly disease - are being advised to stay at home.

Richard O'Shea, owner of Fresh Fish Pisces, on Albion Street

Richard O'Shea, owner of Fresh Fish Pisces, on Albion Street

Nick Joannou, Halifax Market director of tenant association, fears that although most traders are seeing profitable figures this week, independent traders will be hit hard in the coming weeks.

He said: "It's been good business for the butchers in the market.

"I think people are buying a bit more while they can, but this will only last for so long.

"People do have the habit of getting produce from supermarkets or shopping online.

Nick Joannou, Halifax Market director of tenant association

Nick Joannou, Halifax Market director of tenant association

"Many of the usual customers for the market are the elderly who are being told to stay at home.

"If the elderly don't come out it will decimate the market.

"I believe we have to keep the market open so we have to do something.

"The council has to react and they can work with us to create a new service to get produce to customers.

Assistant manager at Max Crossley Fruiterer, Matthew Fleming

Assistant manager at Max Crossley Fruiterer, Matthew Fleming

"One idea we'd like to see introduced during this unprecedented time is to introduce free parking around the market for a period of time."

Assistant manager at Max Crossley Fruiterer, Matthew Fleming said: "Since the outbreak, there's been an underlying current that it's busier than usual.

"But I would not say there's a sense of panic buying, not in the market anyway."

Richard O'Shea, owner of Fresh Fish Pisces, on Albion Street, said: "I feel this is a time of panic.

Halifax Market

Halifax Market

"People have been buying threes times more than they would usually buy because they know what's around the corner.

"Business has been good but I'm worried about the long term because I don't know what's going to happen - no one does.

"I get most of my stock imported from Iceland, Norway and Faroe Islands, which look to be stopping production and closing their borders.

"I'm very worried because I'm only a small business, so if they close borders, what are we going to do?"

"I receive a lot of business from local restaurants and cafes, and they all look to be shutting their doors too - business just can't survive."

Jane Scullion, Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Resources, said: “Calderdale’s many local businesses are such an important part of the borough’s distinctiveness and vibrancy.

"We know this is an extremely difficult and uncertain time for everyone, including our business community, and we want to reassure our local businesses and market traders that we’re doing everything we can to minimise the impact of COVID-19.

“All Council-run markets remain open and generally well-stocked with fresh produce.

"We’re encouraging people to support market traders and independent businesses and shop locally where possible, bearing in mind the Government’s advice on social distancing and staying at home (previously known as ‘self-isolation’).

“On Tuesday, the Government announced a package of support for businesses in response to COVID-19.

"This support includes a small business grant of £10,000 for all businesses in receipt of Small Business Rate Relief or Rural Rate Relief.

"Market traders will be eligible for this if they're registered for business rates and receiving one of the reliefs.

“We are contacting eligible businesses and market traders to provide the relevant advice and grant support as quickly as possible."

“The COVID-19 situation is developing rapidly. We are keeping all of our services under review to do what’s best for Calderdale. We will continue to update local people.”