Romford Market: some traders fear for the future

PUBLISHED: 09:42 04 March 2013

Romford Market during a busy summer's day last year

Romford Market during a busy summer's day last year


A look at how Romford Market is faring at the moment.

With a cold winter and recession biting, the retail trade is not booming.

So it is no surprise to hear that Romford Market is not having the best of times either.

On a recent visit several traders told the Recorder the iconic destination is in trouble.

Len Schooling, who sells artificial flowers and memorial books for funerals, said: “I’ve been here 20 years and this is the worst January and February I’ve ever had.”

Kim Crosby, at Best Plaice fishmonger said: “People are disappointed with it. They come along and ask ‘what’s happened to the market? It’s not what it was’.”

But why does this seem to be the case? Most traders have their own opinions.

Mark Strutton, who sells household goods and has been on the market for 33 years, said: said: “People’s shopping habits have changed and retail has changed. My generation would go and walk round the market to shop, my kids wouldn’t be seen walking round it.

He added: “Shopping on the internet has changed things too. Online you can shop around and get deals. With markets, if it’s a nice sunny day people will come out, if the weather isn’t good, they might not.”

Although many are gloomy about its prospects, others are more optimistic.

Bob Bundy, who has run a leather stall for 18 years, agreed that the market is feeling the bite of recession, but added: “As markets go Romford is still one of the best around.

“The rents are quite reasonable compared to other markets and the car park is not too bad.”

Dominic Alvarados was in his second week on his Dry Foods Herbs and Spices stall, when he spoke to the Recorder.

He explained why he decided to set up there: “There’s more ethnic people living in Romford and there will be more moving into new houses so it’s a good place to be,” he said.

“If things started to change a bit, people would be happier with the market. They want something new.”

But the problem of attracting fresh blood seems a big one. Jim Warren, who has run his washing machine and vaccum cleaner stall since 1964, said: “You can see all the empty spaces, no one wants to work down the market anymore.”

Dave Crosby, who has worked at Best Plaice for 45 years, said: “In January, February and March when it’s bad, they should be encouraging the traders to come out, maybe give them 25 per cent off to keep them coming.

“If there was that kind of incentive there would be more stalls and the council would get more rent.”

Cllr Robert Benham, Havering Council’s cabinet member for empowerment, said: “The first quarter of the year is always quite slow.

“The market is always competing against a lot of the pound shops, while Asda and Primark sell things very cheaply and a lot of people now don’t want to pay for things in cash but with credit or debit cards.

“But it’s the jewel in the crown. Not many London boroughs can boast a 760-year-old market.”

What would you like to see done to improve and ensure the future of Romford Market Let us know at Romford Recorder on Facebook

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