TRADERS at Doncaster Market are counting the cost of the cold winter - with traders estimating they have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Although the borough escaped the worst of yesterday’s snowfall, traders’ representatives are concerned the harsh winter which has hit South Yorkshire has had a serious impact on their takings.
Traders were setting up in falling snow yesterday morning although little stuck in the town centre.
But members of Doncaster Market Traders’ Federation believe it was still enough to keep people away.
Federation president Nigel Wilkinson, who runs a book stall, said: “The last three months have been pretty abysmal with trade in general, the financial situation and the cold weather.
“Friday is one of the main trading days of the week but there has hardly been anyone here.
“I think trade has been down 30 to 50 per cent this year because of the weather, and it has probably cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds.
“It has not helped that another out-of-town centre has opened with Morrisons at Balby. I would urge people to come back to the market.”
Federation committee member Nigel Berry, who runs a stall on the fish market, agreed.
“The bad weather in the last few weeks has really hit trade. People stayed away today. Doncaster market attracts customers from as far away as Mexborough, Sheffield and Worksop.
“They just won’t travel when the weather is bad, and you can’t blame them.”
He believes the thicker snow elsewhere in South Yorkshire has also stopped people travelling to Doncaster for the market.
The market is due to have a major facelift later this year in a bid to re-invigorate trade.
A £1.3 million package is due to revamp the main Doncaster Market, as well as the markets in Rossington and Mexborough.
The main town centre market would see more than 100 stalls removed from the open market and current market top sections, and then replaced with more modern structures.
They would also be laid out in a way which will mean shoppers can get better access to the indoor Wool Market, which would be made it more visible.
The project, called the Doncaster Markets Business Development Scheme, is intended to reverse a fall in the number of traders currently using the open market.
All 138 outdoor stalls would be removed, with council officers describing them as ‘functionally obsolete’. They would be replaced by 100 new fixed stalls, and provision for a further 50 removable stalls.
There would also be covered, kiosk-style stalls created, along with new paving, street furniture and lighting. Replacement water, electricity and telecommunications connections would be installed.
Officials say the aim is to reverse a current decline in the market - which they believe could lead to only 50 of the 138 outdoor stalls being occupied in three years’ time without urgent action.
Yesterday’s weather saw one of the borough’s schools closed, with Denaby Main Primary School announcing early in the morning it would not be opening. The school was concerned about staff and pupils getting to the site on School Walk.
Doncaster Racecourse allowed racing to go ahead after two inspections. A decision was due to be made at 6am today on whether the Lincoln Handicap would be run today.
Flights at Robin Hood Airport took off as normal.
More snow was forecast for today.