Stevenage Indoor Market traders are calling for people to help "remove negativity" and shop local, amid claims footfall has reduced after the town's old bus station was knocked down.

Last week, the Comet ran a story about Stevenage Borough Council member Phil Bibby asking leaders if they have any plans to raise shopper numbers at the 50-year-old centre.

Councillor Bibby said he's "had feedback or complaints from stallholders in the indoor market about the reduced footfall following the siting of the bus interchange."

However, council leader Richard Henry said there "is no evidence" of a decline at Stevenage Indoor Market.

Stevenage Interchange opened in summer 2022 at a location less than 200m away from the old bus station, which is now an event space.

In response to the Comet article, the Traders Partnership Group said: "It saddens us all to hear the negativity we sometimes read on social media platforms and articles in the local news about the indoor market.

"We have to remember we are one of a few town centres that still has an indoor market, which has been recognised as a good indoor market by the National Association of British Markets."

The group has highlighted how some traders have been in their positions for many years, forming "the backbone of the market."

In a statement, the group says: "These traders have seen significant changes over the years and, although those changes may have impacted them slightly, they have survived due to the ongoing return of many loyal customers.

"This is where shopping local gives you that one-to-one personal service you would struggle to receive in a mainstream shop.

"What we have to accept is that people's shopping habits have changed over the years, bringing less footfall into the indoor market and surrounding town centre.

"Woolworths was the biggest blow when they closed the back doors of their shop around 15 years ago, so customers lost the main walkway into the market.

"The way the market is advertised has improved over the years but, sadly of the decline in customers, the impact of advertising is negligible.

"The town centre regeneration had a noticeable impact on the market location, with walkways blocked off and, although diversions were in place, customers found navigating around frustrating, therefore started shopping elsewhere."


The group said the impact of the Covid pandemic also changed the way people shopped, leading more to shop online.

Meanwhile, the pandemic meant Stevenage "lost some big names and small businesses", which had a "big impact" on the town's shopping experience, the group added.

"Customers thought the market was closing and commenting that the town is not worth the visit. So how can the bus station move be any different to the above?

"New traders do struggle in this climate, in competition with bigger stores and online businesses, so what we ask, as traders, is that you continue supporting us by shopping local, and passing on your experience to the younger generations.

"We are always posting on social media platforms with upcoming events, new businesses, offers and spotlights, and we work tirelessly with the town centre management team to make this market work, so please support us and help remove the negativity that impacts us all."