In recent years, Leeds Market traders have faced hardship as a result of Brexit, the pandemic, and the rising cost of living.
Small businesses in Leeds Kirkgate Market have changed the way they run their business as the traders expressed concerns for the future.
Karlos (38) is the owner of GreenZone, a family-owned business for fifteen years. He said: “I faced problems with trading. People don’t understand that with Brexit everything has [risen in price] not by the choice of the traders or stallholders”.
Karlos went on to say that whilst he believes in his products, he has had to raise his prices.
Nonetheless, Karlos declared that after lockdown “things have brightened up.” However, according to a survey for the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP), 76% of businesses in West Yorkshire have been impacted negatively by Covid-19, with 13% saying they had not been impacted at all.
Like many retailers during the lockdown, Rafi’s Spice Box was one market stall that had to close and resort to online delivery. Anna (20), who works there, said like many businesses, the company had had some problems with their stock due to the strains of Brexit on shipping and trading of herbs and spices.
However, these events hadn’t affected her personal life as much as her current boss/es. She added that she faces no real issues with the rise in living costs as she can afford “everything she needs”. As a young woman living in Leeds, she does not speak for the majority, as many people of similar age and even older have voiced their issues with the U-turn the government has made on taxation.
Another trader, Joan Johnson (53), said that she “doesn’t want to second guess” what the government will do next. Johnson implied that in all her thirty-nine and a half years working and twenty-five years of owning The Nut Shop, she had never imagined the impact Covid would have had on her earnings. As “many shops weren’t essentials and weren’t allowed to be open” resulting in not “many people walking about which meant not many people spending.”
In spite of this turmoil that the country is currently facing, the Leeds Market traders are all determined to continue to provide service to their customers, despite what the future has in store.