What must happen now to help Sheffield’s £18 million Moor Market reach its full potential?
That is the question left hanging in the air today after figures uncovered by The Star show for the first time the facility’s footfall compared with the historic Castle Market.
They do not paint a rosy picture. Almost half a million fewer visitors have gone to The Moor, and on some weeks less than half of the 100,000 people that everyone hoped would pass through the doors did.
Everybody in Sheffield wants the market to succeed - and it is too late to go back now.
Sheffield Council has confirmed that it is cutting traders’ rents - again - for the longest period yet.
This will be welcome for those traders who are struggling, but some rightly doubt whether it will bring extra people in. Longer opening hours, trialled last year, did not come to anything permanent.
Another question is how this discount will be paid for. By our reckoning the council has only received full price rents for six out of the 18 months the Moor market has been open so far, on top of money borrowed to build it.
Yesterday lunchtime the market was pleasantly busy, not thronging, but plenty of diners filled the food court’s seating area and there was banter outside stalls as customers waited for their goods. Another group played ping pong at an indoor table.
This Thursday seven traders are also heading up to Fargate for a special mini market - to show what is on offer just down the road.
We must remember that three million visitors a year is not to be sniffed at.
Indeed in Wakefield, where a £3m market is set to close after opening in 2008 due to poor footfall and because the council cannot subsidise traders any longer, that would be a much welcomed success.
Some say that it is too early to tell how the market is doing, and like any business it needs time to bed in.
While there is undoubtbly truth in that, The Star hopes that the people of Sheffield who may have stayed away from the Moor market so far will support it.
And if you simply can’t do that - tell us why, and how things can be improved. We are also looking at ways to promote the market through our website.
All of us want the market to flourish - so let’s make it happen.