Shop Local: Support Romford Market safely in the run-up to Christmas
- Credit: Caron Webb
There is one week left to do your Christmas shopping – and where better to go than Romford Market?
With seven days of trading left the big day, the market has modified its opening times to give locals every chance to shop safely during the festive season.
From today (Friday, December 18), the market - a presence in the town as far back as 1247 - is open every day until Christmas, having added additional days earlier this week.
This will provide a welcome boost to the Romford economy, said Caron Webb, who has run the Storky Baby stall for 24 years: "I'd encourage people to come and shop at our market, particularly in the lead up to Christmas.
"This year has been really tough for traders, having to close for months during the summer and then in November, which is one of our busiest months. Shopping local will help keep the money in the town."
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Caron understands that people may be reluctant to venture out, especially with Havering now in Tier 3, but she wants to reassure people as much as possible: "People are cautious, and they are watching their pennies. But what we are doing at the market is giving people that safer environment.
"It's an open space, we're observing social-distancing, and hand sanitizer is available at all times."
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Caron is clear in her belief that "health is number one", particularly as both her daughter - with whom she co-runs the business - and her mother are considered high-risk.
She knows as well as anyone the dangers posed by coronavirus, but believes the extended opening hours this week will promote public safety: "When the market is open every day, it gives people the chance to stagger their shopping. They won't feel under pressure to do it all in one day, which means the market won't feel as busy."
For Caron - a Romford resident who has been pitching up at 5am on market days for almost 25 years - the importance of shopping local is about more than just her livelihood. There's special atmosphere at the market - it's like a "family".
And while this has been an incredibly tough year, the community remains strong.
Councillor Damian White, Leader of Havering Council, said: “I’m really happy Romford Market has been able to reopen and will be open every day in the run-up to Christmas.
“The Market is the heart and soul of Romford town centre and an important part of our borough’s rich history and heritage.
“The additional opening hours will hopefully help with social distancing and will allow residents to enjoy the market and support our local traders in a safe way. We are also deploying extra Covid marshals on market days to support shoppers, protect traders and to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.”
Julie Frost, director of Romford BID, added: "Both the Mayor of London and the health secretary have been encouraging people to shop local as a way of reducing unnecessary journeys as we enter the final week before Christmas.
"What better way to heed that advice than to choose to come and support Romford Market! Also, the ability to remain outside whilst you shop provides an additional advantage in allowing you to keep your distance from other shoppers.
"It is the ultimate Win Win situation - not only are you providing a much needed boost to shopping in the Town Centre #ShopLocal, but you are also #DoingYourBit to protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus."