A tale of two market towns as slump nears

editorial image

Market traders in Berkhamsted say business is booming despite the looming prospect of a triple dip recession – but the picture is rather more gloomy in Tring.

The UK posted 0.3 per cent negative economic growth in the last quarter of 2012.

If it is negative in the first quarter of this year, the country will fall into recession for the third time in five years.

But the markets in Berkhamsted are thriving in the face of the gloom, new figures suggest.

Rent collected by the Market Trust Fund from Berkhamsted’s stall-holders, rose from £28,000 in 2009 to a likely £38,000 this financial year.

They are so popular that a new Wednesday market opened in September last year to meet stallholders’ demand to trade in the town.

Market Trust Fund committee-member Ian Reay said: “Our markets are well-sited in the centre of town.

“It is all part of this central area where a lot of action takes place on a Saturday and increasingly on a Wednesday now as well.

“The Wednesday market has not only increased the vitality of the town, but has been a great help keeping the Town Hall going during the recession.”

Rent from stallholders is ploughed into the upkeep of Berkhamsted Town Hall, which has suffered falling revenues in recent years as fewer people pay to use it for functions.

Janet Stupples, a director of Tring Farmers Market, said takings at its latest market were ‘very low’ due to bad weather.

She hopes this will turn around as spring approaches, but said: “How could any market improve its trade in this present economy? It is unlikely to. The Tring Farmers Market has held its own unlike many other markets.”

But Mr Reay blamed the location of the market for its poor trade.

He said: “The ones in Tring are in a car park away from the centre of town.”