TRADERS are starting to fear for the future of Queensgate Market after more businesses have shut down.
Three units – including a long-established butchers and sandwich shop – have closed.
And other traders are at a loss as to how to keep shoppers coming through the market’s doors.
The departure of the three businesses adds to the increasing number of empty stalls and shuttered-up shops sweeping through the indoor market.
Kirklees Council has insisted that the indoor market is continuing to attract new businesses and shoppers.
But several stallholders have said they are worried about the future of the market and are unsure what, if anything, can be done to stem the decline in trading.
Some said they cannot compete with larger chain stores while others blamed the building’s appearance for putting off shoppers.
John Brook, of Brook’s furnishing, witnessed Mason’s cooked meats and sandwiches shop close days ago, together with longstanding business Trevor Blackburn butchers.
“It’s a shame to see people like that go,’’ he said. “I thought business was going well there.
“When established places like that go you start to think there’s not much hope for the rest of us.
“Businesses seem to be closing all around the market. It’s quite depressing and if they keep closing there will be no need for anybody to come in.
“People used to go shopping at the market because they could get things cheap.
“But the small stallholders have been swept into the background by the big players that can buy in bulk and sell even cheaper.
“It’s expensive to have a stall. As well as rent you have to run a vehicle and pay for storage and you’ve got to sell a lot just to break even.
“It’s difficult because the market is a lot quieter now. You used to come in here and it was like being outside a football ground on a Saturday.
“But now we’re not getting enough fresh footfall, while at least the shops outside are getting the passing trade.”
Michaela Dyer, retail assistant at fashion shop Missy, believes the market is not attractive enough to get customers through the doors.
She said: “Our shop is doing really well but we don’t have that much competition.
“I think that’s the problem with some of the other shops in here. There’s too much of the same thing – like four or five butchers – and that’s why people are struggling.
“There’s a lot of shops down this end with the shutters down and people are going to see them and not even want to come through the door.
“I also think the way the market looks is putting people off. It’s really dull, the floor has been the same for years and the car park is horrible and smells.
“When you come in it’s like stepping back in time and it needs to be pulled into the 21st century.
“It could do with being rebuilt with two floors to open it up a bit. I think a food court would also be a good idea.”
Steph Brooksbank, shop assistant at Huddersfield Pet Supplies, said: “It’s really quiet at this end. Most people get everything they need from the supermarket now or other shops that can do things cheaper. I also think younger people have a bit of an attitude about going to the market.”
A spokeswoman for Kirklees Council confirmed that three stalls had left the market but said one, Cash 4 Gold, was only there on a three-month trial.
She said that the market was continuing to attract businesses, with five setting up shop there since Christmas.
She added: “The market is also working in partnership with Huddersfield University’s Business Studies course where students will create new stalls for two weeks as part of their courses.
“The Markets Service is running initiatives to increase the number of people visiting the market by local purchasing and also the Mad Monday discount scheme which is aimed at students.”