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East London market traders feel the pinch ahead of Christmas

PUBLISHED: 19:00 18 December 2018

Roman Road Market toy seller Kenny Irish. Picture: Tilly Armstrong

Roman Road Market toy seller Kenny Irish. Picture: Tilly Armstrong

Tilly Armstrong

The festive feeling is at an all-time low in east London’s markets as traders complain of dwindling sales ahead of Christmas.

Politics has been blamed for markets in Tower Hamlets and Newham forcing stallholders to tighten their belts as winter approaches.

Violette Nguyen, 30, who has been trading at Old Spitalfields Market six days a week for seven years, said that there was “half the amount of people coming in” this December compared to previous years.

At a late night shopping event earlier this month, Violette blamed changes to the market under a new “billionaire owner” for a decline in customers.

“It is like a traditional old pub becoming a gastropub,” said the home-made greeting cards seller.

“There are local people who don’t like it here now and they won’t come in here anymore.

“This is having a huge effect on Christmas trade.”

Setting up her stall last Friday, Roman Road Market traders told a similar story, complaining of business being quiet this year.

“There is half the amount of people,” said Perry Winestein, 60, who has been selling toys on ‘The Roman’ for three years with his wife Kim.

Fellow toy seller Kenny Irish, 52, said: “It is a rubbish market with a bad atmosphere.

“I have been here since 3am, it is Christmas time, and I’ve taken in £15.”

Natalie Green has sold jewellery in Upton Park’s Queen’s Market for seven years.

The 33-year-old said she had started a petition to contest the market being closed on Christmas Eve, a prime time for last-minute sales.

She said: “I’ve been working in markets for 20 years and this is the only time that I’ve had Christmas Eve off.”

The uncertainty surrounding Brexit is also causing anxiety amongst sellers, with some traders blaming it for a declining number of shoppers.

“People are scared to spend and they’re holding onto their money,” said trader Kim Winestein.

“We don’t know what to do. I just hope we can hold onto our stall.”

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