The fruit and vegetable trade remained busy during the first lockdown and this was also the case for businesses in New Spitalfields wholesale market in London.
“For most of the traders business remained buoyant but for some of the tenants who supplied the caterers it was tough,” explains Jan Hutchinson, CEO of the Tenants Association at the market. “We have seen an increase of enquiries from people wishing to purchase at the market, in some cases this could be people who have suddenly found themselves out of work and are looking for a career change. It is great to see new interest in the market, but we are trying to keep numbers visiting the site safe just now.”
“We are a wholesale market, and our fruit and vegetable traders are more set up for trade sales than for small consumers purchases, so we don’t advertise the fact that we are open to the general public. We also try to support the local street markets and farmer’s markets, many of which initially closed but quickly reopened within a week of the first lock down.”
November is typically a quiet month in the wholesale trade, it is just after half-term and people start to think about saving for Christmas and eat out less.
It also a change of the season said Jan, “Some produce sees gaps in supply as we transition to the import season. Brexit is also a worry as we may see a delay at the border imported fresh produce, but I’m sure if we start to see empty shelves new regulations will be implemented quickly. I hope our traders will do enough trade in December to see them through any tough periods at the start of the year.”
Jan also mentioned the hospitality suppliers who were operating at around 30% at the moment. “These people are operating at a loss just to keep supplying essential services such as schools and hospitals. This is not sustainable for them.”
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