DESPITE the history and vibrancy of Leigh Market, the pandemic may have created a shift in consumer trends that are a threat to its longevity.

While markets across the country have suffered from declining footfall over the last few years, Leigh market traders said that their stalls were trading "magnificently" prior to the pandemic.

However, with Leigh market being shut throughout the first lockdown in 2020 and concerns over coronavirus persisting, the number of people coming into the market has dramatically fallen.

With the older generation more traditional market customers as well as the most susceptible to coronavirus, it is important to note that this drop in custom may also be influenced by those who have passed away with the virus.

Although widespread coronavirus restrictions have now loosened, Leigh market traders said that it has been a "horrendous" struggle to get customers back into the market.

What market traders have said:

Leigh Journal: Paul Naughton of Top Banana fruit and veg stallPaul Naughton of Top Banana fruit and veg stall

With such a rich history within Leigh Market, Paul Naughton, manager of Top Banana fruit and veg stall, said: "Before the pandemic, the people of Leigh used this market magnificently.

"It's a market town so people gravitate here, and we were trading back like it was in the 1980s - it was fantastic."

However, as the market was not deemed a social necessity and was closed during the first lockdown, Paul said that it has been a "horrendous" struggle to get customers back into the market.

Paul added: "After the first lockdown, everybody had already made alternative arrangements for their shopping and went elsewhere.

"There was not much reason for people to come into Leigh once their arrangements had changed.

Asked about the future of Top Banana and the wider market in Leigh, Paul said that there needs to be investment, support from the council, and a "modernisation of the market [in order] to change with the times".

Leigh Journal: Glenn FurnivarGlenn Furnivar

In a similar vein, Glenn Furnivar of Fish Man Butchers said: "We have not really recovered since we came back from lockdown in 2020.

"A lot of people who shopped in the market have passed away and a lot of the older generation are still not coming out to shop in the market anymore."

Dejected about the market's empty stalls and empty shops in the town centre, Glenn said that something "needs to be done" to ensure the survival of businesses in Leigh.

Glenn said: "There has never been much investment in the town centre so there is not much here to attract people into Leigh.

"The council need to do something to show that they care about the community and not push us to one side."

Leigh Journal: The council said they are committed to securing the "best possible future for Leigh”The council said they are committed to securing the "best possible future for Leigh”

What the council have said: 

In response to the market traders concerns, David Proctor, assistant director for growth and housing, said:

“We want Leigh to be a thriving town where people want to live, shop and spend their time and we welcome the engagement of the community in Leigh to achieve this vision.

“The council consulted extensively on the Leigh Town Centre Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRF) which sets a flexible and robust vision for the town centre and will coordinate activity, shape development and guide investment.

“We’re currently preparing a bid to the government’s Levelling Up Fund which presents an opportunity to attract up to £20 million of funding to transform Leigh town centre and stimulate private sector investment.

“We’re already engaging with business groups and other stakeholders in the town centre as we develop this bid, and we’re committed to working with our partners, including local businesses and residents, to secure the best possible future for Leigh.”