Recently on the @marketshoppers twitter page, I asked you all for any concerns or suggestions for future blog posts and one follower suggested the following: “Should pitch feed be structured to the amount of trade and not operator profit and how are pitch fees structured for new traders”.
Instantly, this made a lot of sense to cover as it is relevant, necessary and logical for traders and operators to implement. However, I want to cover this blog professionally and factually as to cover this topic properly it will take a lot of research and getting in contact with a lot of operators and councils, and traders for their views and opinions, therefore I will address this professionally further down the line.
But for now what I will do is address this from my point of view in a hypothetical indirect manor.
So, what do I think about pitch fees being structured to the amount of trade?
Well what do I think about giving a homeless person food because he’s hungry? DO IT!!! Of course this makes sense why would it not? What we are trying to do is improve our economy and how is this going to work if the operator is the only one who is looked after financially? Now I understand that some operators do help the traders, but some clearly do not for example Wolverhampton council market traders have been screaming for a long time to get the rent rises reduced, just to be ignored and for Wolverhampton council to use stalling tactics in my opinion, (which I will blog about) when private operators are charging half the price and everybody is benefitting trader and operators a like.
Lets talk hypothetically, in a world that benefits everybody, both traders and operators, lets use a imaginary market called Mathew’s Market (because my name is Mathew). Now Mathew’s Market was once a booming market, which had a high customer base, people used to queue up for stalls, there were waiting lists – in fact, there were products for literally everything you could think of Mathew’s Market had food vans galore with all types of foods from burgers, to crepes, to the man selling meat from the van to the ice cream van. To clean public toilets and free car parking and even a pub nearby for the men who just wanted to leave their wives to bargain hunt and needed a rest with a pint.
Now the council saw this market and realised all the profits it’s tenants were making, and thought these traders are doing so well we can increase the rent and charge a little bit more understandably, and so they did. The traders new the market was booming so accepted the rent rise, no problems, all was fair. However, the council then thought that this was too easy and we have increased our profits by x amount so we could do this again, and again they do – now the traders are thinking “hold on wait a minute you just raised rent and want more, ok but what are you giving us extra for this?” The council point out the fact that the market is booming so once again the traders accept this, but obviously don’t want to let this keep on happening, and then you’ve got the council who are now ecstatic – 2 rent rises and all this money, great idea! Why don’t we just raise rent every year, the market is booming it will be fine – and so they did.
Little did they think about this strategically, because now what has happened every year they have raised rent on the market, they have lost traders, they had a waiting list but the list is no more, they had all these variety of food vans, whereas now they have 2, they had all these products but no longer do so because traders have moved to other markets for cheaper rent prices and just as many customers. So the impact of this is that now they have a smaller market, less variety, less traders and less visitors, surely they can’t rise rent any more, the market is a fraction of what it once was but no. The council can’t have this, surely, as they will lose money so what do they do, raise rent again. Now all of a sudden, the market is empty, surely now they have business advisors in the council they will know that undoubtedly the best thing to do is lower rent in order to gain the customers and traders back. Yes, of course they will lose a little bit of money personally for a little while but this will work and help their local economy and reduce unemployment tremendously, so what do the council of Mathew’s Market do? They decide to cut the market place in half and get rid of half the stores that once had a waiting list for, as they are losing money on these stalls, instead of trying to refill them.
Now what do you think is going to happen to Mathew’s Market once this happens? I will tell you. More rent rises for the cost of reducing this market, less customers, no chance of more variety and eventually, closure.
Now tell me, who benefits from this? Not the trader, that is for sure, and definitely not the council/operator because when it has closed that income they were making from the market would have simply stopped. Now where are they going to get this income back from? I know Mathew’s Market has a brother, Anthony’s Market and so, the same occurrence is going to happen all over again until that market closes down too.
So in my opinion if market operators in some areas don’t take a leaf out of other market operator’s book then nobody will benefit and all it will do is eventually damage the town. For example, Darlaston market in Walsall, had been closed down for 4 years before recently re-opening, do you think anybody heard of Darlaston town in that 4 years or visited? It was a ghost town, the only reason people would visit Darlaston was simply for the Darlaston Asda and nothing more, but now the market has come and brought back life to Darlaston, and although they could do with more stalls, it is a process of time and consistency.
So what do I think about pitch fees being structured to the amount of trade> DO IT!! Because this will benefit all involved, when trade improves pitch fees can also improve – but don’t get out of hand with it, as you have to find a balance to keep the market growing and custom flowing. Take a leaf out of Dudley market’s book who have recently done just what I said and cut cost to increase trade. It is not rocket science.
One last thing I would like to ask is that there are all these big market companies that are improving market as they say, but these occurrences are still happening, why is this? Is this because some companies only want to help the market traders/operators that fund them, or just that some areas are clearly more important than others?