THE STAR SAYS: Time to bring buzz to the city centre

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Ho, ho - how on earth can it to time to think about celebrating Christmas already?

No doubt that is what many of our readers will think when they see the page four story today about the opening of the city’s festive market on Fargate.

It does feel as though the tinsel and the mince pies arrive earlier every single year, which is enough to make anyone say ‘humbug.’

What is good to see about Sheffield’s market is that 80 per cent of the traders this year are from the local area

and it is the biggest ever one.

To go from just ten stalls five years ago to 42 is an impressive expansion, and it can only be a good thing to give fledgling traders such a prominent position to sell everything from macaroons to jewellery.

While Sheffield’s events are not as big and glittery as those in Manchester or Leeds, markets elsewhere are organised and paid for by councils.

Sheffield’s is organised by a business instead, generating money for the council.

It will also bring a bit of a buzz to Fargate over the next six weeks, which is desperately needed.

As organiser Julie Wilson says, it is a shame that shoppers often abandon the city centre for places such as Meadowhall when there is so much to offer.

Independent shops along Division Street sell gifts you couldn’t find anywhere else and there are more bars or restaurants than any shopping centre.

There are good reasons why people stay away - mainly the cost of parking, and the unavoidable fact that there are bigger brands elsewhere.

This year the council has - hallelujah - offered free parking on a Saturday afternoon.

Hopefully those three afternoons will make a difference to footfall.

There’s little we can do about the shops apart from pray that a retail quarter will one day come to fruition.

But we do believe that people should try to support the city centre, and its brilliant independent businesses especially, in the meantime.