THE festive season has failed to bring any cheer to market traders in Accrington.
Plummeting profits and dwindling customers were blamed on the disruption and building work caused by the town centre market development. The general consensus is that profits are down on last year and that Christmas trade has been slow but steady.
The chairman of Accrington Market Tenants Association, Mr Neville Singer, said: "Christmas was not as good as last year, probably because of the disruption caused by developments to the town centre."
However, Mr Singer remained positive about the future when the development is completed. He commented: "We confidently expect trade to revert to normal levels after it is finished."
Mr David Davies, who owns David Gwynne Davies cake stall in the indoor market, reported a 60 per cent drop in sales since the development began.
He said: "Hyndburn Borough Council are inadequate in their ideas about this town. The construction work is driving customers away from the market and into the supermarkets. There's also been a huge drop in the numbers of older customers as the market is too far from the bus stop."
Mrs Jenny Collinge, of Jenny's Clothing stall on the outdoor market, said: "Since moving to a different stall, trade has gone down a lot. I've lost at least half of my regular customers. The way the whole market is split up puts people off coming."
Mrs Christine Grayson, who owns the well-established Greenwood's cheese stall in the indoor market, said: "Trade has been absolutely horrendous since the building work started in July. Profits are down by at least a third."
She said: "People have got to walk through dark tunnels through the building site to get to the market, and combined with the bad weather the entrances are muddy. It doesn't help with supermarkets now opening 24-hours a day as people simply want convenience shopping."
Raymond Threlfall of Threlfall's Fish Market in the temporary blue cabins on Broadway, said: "Trade has been down by about 25 per cent. We've been placed too far away from the main market, and a lack of parking in the town means people have to walk a long way. People who visit the market come once and don't come back again".
But there were some stall-holders who are generally pleased with Christmas trade, such as Mr Wayne Hindle of A & W Hindle butchers.
Mr Hindle reported: "We've had an excellent Christmas trade, it was even better than last year. Things are a bit quieter now, but I think the new development will help to bring more people into Accrington in the long run."
Mr Malcolm Aspin, who manages Slacks Farm Butchers in the indoor market, said: "Trade has slacked off quite a bit compared to last year, but we are still steady.''
Mr George Cropper, who owns the G D Cropper butchers in the indoor market, said: "Trade has been steady with a good beef trade."
Mr Damien Smith of Smith's Fruiterers in the outdoor market said since moving to a good location his profits have improved.
He said: "Profits are up and trade is going well, as we are a lot happier here than in our last spot. We have noticed a drop of older customers and regulars though."