Future of Artisan Market decided

Having consider the results of the market research commissioned by the Town Council, it has been decided that future Artisan Markets in Wilmslow will be held on a Sunday.

The Artisan Market was established in Wilmslow two and a half years ago with the aim of supporting local businesses, however a large number of retailers called for the market to be switched to a Sunday as it has been having a detrimental effect on sales on their busiest day of the week.

As a result, Wilmslow Town Council (WTC) commissioned independent research company Wendy Dunn Research, at a cost of approximately £3000, to assess the impact of the Wilmslow Artisan Market and help both the Town Council and Cheshire East Council to determine whether Saturday or Sunday is preferred by the majority of Wilmslow retailers.

222 outlets in the town, including those located on Chapel Lane and Summerfields - as well as the town centre - were survey, which accounts for 81% of all retailers in Wilmslow.

When asked which day they would prefer to have the Artisan Market, 32% said no preference, 23% said a Saturday and 45% said a Sunday.

The research consisted of a 5 minute questionnaire, which was carried out face-to-face (with the exception of a few which took place over the phone) between 21st November and 4th December 2013, which was timed to be shortly after the first Sunday Artisan Market held on 17th November.

Of those questioned 29% said the Saturday market had a positive impact on their business, 38% said it had had no effect and 28% said it had had a negative impact.

When questioned about the impact of the November Sunday Artisan Market, 33% said it had a positive impact on their business, 53% said it had had no effect and 7% said it had had a negative impact. Therefore holding the market on a Sunday appeared to eliminate a considerable amount of the negative impact on businesses, presumably as many of them were closed.

Looking at the type of business, the outlets most negatively impacted included supermarkets, butchers, food shops, clothing retailers and those selling mobile and audio communications. Whilst those most positively impacted included restaurants, coffee shops, travel agents and estate agents.

As part of the research, retailers were also asked about their usual trading hours. 99% opened on a Saturday, whilst only 38% opened on a Sunday. However, 50% of all outlets in Wilmslow do open on Sundays in the run up to Christmas. Therefore, a Saturday market will affect virtually everyone, either positively or negative, whereas a Sunday market will normally have an impact on 38%.

Retailers were asked about the impact on their trading days if the Artisan Market was moved to a Sunday and the majority of outlets said they would not change their trading days as a consequence. 7% said they open on a Sunday if the market moved to a Sunday, 2% said they would close, 88% it would make no difference to their opening hours and 3% did not know.

In the light of the conclusions of the research and the presentation of the findings at the WTC meeting on Monday, 16th December, Cheshire East Councillor Rod Menlove and the Town Centre Manager Diane Smith have asked the organisers of the Artisan Market to retain Sunday as the market trading day.

Cllr Rod Menlove said "During our discussions in early 2011 with Denise Valente on the concept of an Artisan Market our primary objective was to establish an event to benefit the retail trade in Wilmslow. That objective has been achieved beyond expectations and Wilmslow owes a debt of gratitude to the Artisan Market organisers Denise and Vicky.

"Reassessment of an event such as this after a couple of years' experience is sensible and with a market the obvious consideration is the matter of the trading day. I welcome the fact that the independent research is conclusive on Sunday as the trading day. I have every confidence that the Sunday Artisan Market will continue to be a resounding success for the retailers and market traders and an attraction for the residents of Wilmslow."

Speaking at Monday's town council meeting, Cllr Keith Purdom, Chairman of WTC, said "I think one of the worries when we debated whether to spend the money was whether it would tell us anything we didn't already know and would it give us a clear result. Obviously that was a concern of some members and I do think we have a clear result."

Cllr Ruth McNulty added "The reason the Business Group promoted the Artisan Market in the first place was the results of a benchmarking survey conducted by Cheshire East. The lack of a market here in Wilmslow was felt to be a detriment to the footfall in the town so they set this market up, award-winning market, to help bring footfall into the town.

"They've done that in spades but they never intended at all to damage businesses that were here, they were trying to help businesses, and so it is safe to say that the organisers of the market are more than happy to make a go of working the market on a Sunday."

Organiser Denise Valente told wilmslow.co.uk "Our initial aims for the Artisan Market in Wilmslow have far outreached our initial expectations on all fronts.

"To bring an event to the town which enhances what the town has to offer, showcases the town and provide a pull back into town for visitors who would normally shop elsewhere is what we set out to achieve. It has always been our intention to maximize the potential for our permanent retailers whilst providing something extraordinary for our visitors and so we are determined to make a move to Sunday as successful as possible.

"Our incredibly talented artisan traders are unfaltering in their support and loyalty and so I am confident that we can continue to deliver an outstanding event for Wilmslow.

"The challenge to reinvigorate Wilmslow on a Sunday is a big one. Having been shortlisted to the final 4 in the country for the Mary Portas 'High Street Champion of the Year' I am certain we can achieve it with the continued support and patronage of our many wonderful visitors."

Due to a request from Wilmslow Town Council, businesses were also asked whether any other local events (excluding the Artisan Market) had had an impact on their business. Events identified as being positive were: Wilmslow Motor Show (56%), the markets (11%), the Christmas lights switch on (11%), Wilmslow Scarecrow Festival (9%) and Dickinson's Real Deal (4%).

Issues identified as having a negative impact were: parking problems (25%), Wilmslow Car Show (21%), road works (18%), buskers (4%) and theft (4%).

Wilmslow resident Dave Cash independently carried out his own research, with the aim of filling what he described as the "big gap" because the survey only covered local retailers and not customers of the Artisan Market and the market traders.

Dave Cash explained "To that end I did my own straw poll of market traders in November and went out yesterday (Sunday 15th December) to straw poll some of the shoppers. It is not statistically significant as Wendy Dunn's report, as the numbers are so low."

Mr Cash, who interviewed 25 visitors to the market and 81 out of about 110 market traders, asked that when considering the Wendy Dunn research they also considered the "contribution from the shoppers and market stall holders".

Of the 25 visitors questioned by Dave Cash, 5 said they would prefer the market to be on a Saturday, 8 preferred a Sunday, whilst 12 had no preference. Of those he spoke to 14 were Wilmslow residents and 11 were visiting, which whilst a small sample indicates that people do travel into the town from the surrounding area.

Dave Cash also surveyed 81 stallholders on Sunday 17th November, when the first Sunday trial took place. They were asked whether they would prefer the Wilmslow Artisan Market to be held on a Saturday or Sunday, 36 said Saturday, 8 said Sunday, 38 were happy with either and 2 did not reply. Asked whether they would attend the market if it was held monthly on a Sunday, 63 said yes, 8 said no and 10 did not reply.

All 81 stallholders said they would like to see the Wilmslow Artisan Market continue.

The first Wilmslow Artisan Market of 2014 will take place on Sunday 19th January.

Cheshire East Council, Wilmslow Artisan Market, Wilmslow Town Council


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Peter Aitchison
Tuesday 17th December 2013 at 1:55 pm
Predictable outcome from a pointless survey conducted at the wrong time of year
It won't make a huge amount of difference to us but I am certain it will have a negative effect on Saturday trade for the shop keepers
I still find it incredible that a shop would not want that amount of footfall past their window
I would kill for that in my high street !
I feel sorry for the shops that will lose out
Oh well time will tell
Martin Ailion
Tuesday 17th December 2013 at 2:12 pm
The outcome may have been "predictable" but I'm guessing, as someone who supplies a Wilmslow retailer, that retailers feel comfortable with Saturday footfall and welcome something that brings both locals and visitors into Wilmslow on a Sunday.
Neil Stelling
Tuesday 17th December 2013 at 4:16 pm
Lot's of figures in this article, which can be interpreted in different ways. I went to both sunday markets (nov & dec), and was a regular visitor to the saturday markets.

Personally, I much prefer saturday, as it's a shopping day anyway. The two sunday markets have been busy, but Nov/Dec are not really a fair trial. Let's see how they do on a cold jan/feb sunday...

It seems the least weight in all the surveys (and ignored by the 'official' survey) are the actual visitors, without which the market would not exist ! Perhaps this attitude to customers is at the root of some wilmslow retailers problems ?

The market traders preferred Saturday instead of Sunday by a ratio of 36 to 8 surveyed (another 38 were happy with either) ? So that result says the traders prefer Saturday. But guess they don't matter either. They only run the event.

Market traders and visitors (we can only guess as they were not properly surveyed) prefer Saturday, so we're moving to Sunday...

Let's get some facts right about shop opening too. Most of them were open on sunday two days ago, with even those few (wh smith, greggs and another) who closed in november chose to open in december. Sunday would give them an extra shopping day if they choose to open and the market stays busy, so sunday is better for them from that point of view.

Shame to tamper with a winning formula and successful event.
James Hanson
Tuesday 17th December 2013 at 4:47 pm
Its very telling that the council did not ask the people of Wilmslow what they wanted and a straw poll of 25 people (whom I was one) does not really let the council know what the people of Wimslow want.

Most of the statistics quoted are meaningless, as most shops do not open on a Sunday.

I know that some of the objectors to the Saturday Market were canvassing other shopkeepers to vote against the Saturday Market.

Come on Councillors step up and do your job - how many of you were out asking what the people who voted for you what they wanted.

I did notice a lot less stalls on Sunday and less food stalls - most of the stall holders I spoke to said they were quieter on the Sunday

The winner in all this the £3,000 paid to the research company that did not recommend speaking to the people of Wilmslow - it seems a very one sides exercise to placate the shopkeepers of Wilmslow with poorly drawn conclusions from vague statistics

Why not get the High School to run this next time as part of a community project - they would probably to a better job and not cost the tax payers thousands.
Pete Taylor
Tuesday 17th December 2013 at 9:51 pm
I am somewhat surprised that this fellow: http://bit.ly/1dL8RuR has not been consulted; Wilmslow would seem to fall within his "jurisdiction" (that is according to his belief).

Perhaps we could also ask him to do something about the Irish Travellers, at the same time?

My advice to the Sunday marketeers- bring less pies in January; you'll not be needing as many.
Peter Aitchison
Tuesday 17th December 2013 at 10:15 pm
Thanks Pete,
Luckily I don't sell pies !
My advice to the shop keepers ....
Don't order too much stock you've put Grove Street back 3 years
John Chard
Wednesday 18th December 2013 at 12:20 am
I'll have the normal stock levels I normally have. The market moving won't affect me! But good luck with your trade in Jan/feb when no one will be interested I think
Peter Aitchison
Wednesday 18th December 2013 at 8:07 am
Jan Feb are no problem to us hardy traders
The people of Wilmslow have supported the market through the cold months in previous years and I've no doubt they will again
We will be there in Jan bigger and better than ever with a fresh new look to our stall
We would also like to thank the visitors to the market for an amazing day last Sunday and of course thanks for supporting us all year :)
Sally Green
Wednesday 18th December 2013 at 8:31 am
It was "predictable" whom would be the first person to comment on this matter. It would seem that the democratic consensus has been reached. Less bleating and more working as a whole to make this day a success is surely the way forward.
Peter Aitchison
Wednesday 18th December 2013 at 10:21 am
I will assume you are referring to me Sally
I don't agree it's been democratic as not everyone affected was included
However we are happy as always to bring the market to wilmslow and we will make it better than ever next year
The only thing that really matters are the people of wilmslow and they support us every month !
Mike Norbury
Wednesday 18th December 2013 at 12:14 pm
I bet the jewellers who started all this will now be open on sundays as their shop was this last sunday trying to sell expensive bling to our wrong sort of clientel market crowd.
well done Wilmslow town council, spineless as most councils I see. There was a lot of people who relied on the bus service to get to Wilmslow on a Saturday for the market you've now just stopped that as theres hardly any bus service on a sunday well done ruining retail and public transport all in one go hats off to wtc
Steph Walsh
Wednesday 18th December 2013 at 12:48 pm
I am not a trader at the market, neither do I run a shop. I am one of the little people who has enjoyed the market since it was established and I too can say that this outcome was expected. It is not a democratic process one which cuts off the party that has a non-vested interest in both the shops and the market, and which also represents the biggest slice of all available views on the matter.

It seems to me like, for one reason or non-reason (see the Alderley Edge market also discussed on the sister site), whenever these provincial towns have a good thing in their hands they do their utmost to throw it into the gutter so that it can wither and die. I didn't come on a Sunday because I like to do other things on Sundays, but I was told that it was no way near the same, even in the run-up to Christmas. So... good night and good luck?
Kathleen Morris
Saturday 21st December 2013 at 10:11 am
There have been fewer comments made on this topic than I would have expected. Perhaps this is because we all knew what the result would be anyway.

I am one of the many who will not be attending the Sunday market. It's a pity it is looking as though it will be left to die off - it was a real boost to Wilmslow. If I were one of the market traders I would be looking for an alternative pitch now. Grove Street on a regular Saturday is dead as a dodo and I for one see no reason to go wandering down there with so little on offer.

Of course, if the people really affected - the customers - had been asked, I think the answer would have been different.The Council has shown itself no friend of democracy in this action; do the councillors not understand how they diminish what little respect the voters have for them when they do this?
Pete Taylor
Monday 23rd December 2013 at 12:32 am
Could the Town Clerk remind us of the date of the next election, please?