Barking Market traders feel the pinch ahead of Christmas
- Credit: Alex Shaw
Barking Market traders say they are feeling the pinch from online retail giants taking a bite out of their businesses.
Independent retailers increasingly struggle to compete with their online rivals and brands with big-budget advertising campaigns, interviews conducted by the Post on Tuesday suggest.
With stalls in Barking Town Centre adding an extra day to their normal opening dates ahead of Christmas, some stallholders fear the time has come to shut up shop for good.
One of them, clothes seller Tekin Gulsoy, 44, put it bluntly.
“Barking Market is suffering,” he said.
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“It doesn’t feel like Christmas. It’s quiet.”
His colleague, Imtiaz Chaudhry, agreed online retailers had made life tough for small businesses such as theirs, who ply their wares amid diminishing footfall, rising rents and, thanks to winter weather in the open-air market, winds up to 30 miles an hour.
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“No-one can survive,” the 45-year-old said, adding: “It is difficult for people like ourselves to compete.”
Elton John, an animated orangutan and a school show featuring a child in an electrical plug costume have been mobilised to flog goods in adverts by high streets brands this festive season.
Figures last month show nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of the UK’s retail spending happens online; small comfort for the dozens who rise early to set up their stalls for 9am on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Fielding questions simultaneously from a reporter and a customer curious about cosmetics was Davoud Ahmadi, 39, whose stall sells items including aftershave, makeup and perfume.
“It is very quiet,” he said.
“The market is very slow now.”
A drain on customers, Tekin went on, was enough to make people seek work elsewhere.
“A lot of people have given up,” he added.
“Online [retailers are] taking up more business: this is the feeling among all the market traders. If you speak to anyone here they will tell you the same thing.”
Children’s clothes vendor Ivan Singh, however, remained optimistic.
“We are quite fortunate we’ve got quite a lot of regular punters,” the 52-year-old said.
“You have to come down and see what you are buying. People still need to go out and touch the merchandise.”