'People want to shop' - Market traders taking price spikes 'on the chin'

We spoke with four traders on Fakenham market to see how the rising cost of living was affecting them.

We spoke with four traders on Fakenham market to see how the rising cost of living was affecting them. - Credit: Tatyana Allenby/Aaron McMillan

Despite the rising cost of living, traders are still committed to serving markets across the county.

Thursday is market day in Fakenham, with traders from across Norfolk visiting the town to sell goods.

But as the price of living continues to soar, they are seeing their businesses affected by wide-scale increases in all areas.

On March 31, the number of traders in Fakenham seem to be down slightly.

It could have been caused by the morning’s cold snap or perhaps traders and punters are feeling the squeeze.

Fakenham market on March 31, where it appeared slightly quieter than usual. 

Fakenham market on March 31, where it appeared slightly quieter than usual. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

We spoke with four traders to see how the price hikes are affecting them.

Scott Seeking is the manager of Meadow Market, a supplier of fresh fruit and veg.

Scott Seeking is the manager of Meadow Market

Scott Seeking is the manager of Meadow Market - Credit: Aaron McMillan

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The 46-year-old said a spike in prices is being seen in every part of his business.

“We have noticed, as everyone has, an increase across the board on all of the products, whether fresh or imported, also the fuel increase is really being felt across the board,” he said.

“Our contract price has not gone up in the last five years but has increased twice in the last three months.

Meadow Market, a supplier of fresh fruit and veg, on Fakenham market

Meadow Market, a supplier of fresh fruit and veg, on Fakenham market - Credit: Aaron McMillan

“Everything is increasing. Fertiliser for vegetables is also going through the roof. 

"But, we haven’t raised prices as a result - our prices have always fluctuated weekly due to availability, especially since Brexit and the pandemic. 

"The standard price changes (in both directions) are always due to the produce’s seasons. We have taken a lot of the price rises on the chin and only passed on an increase if totally necessary.

“We are still keeping busy, and going to the three markets we have always attended. One thing from the pandemic, people want to shop local and they like to shop outside, and a majority of them are still continuing to visit us." 

Along from Meadow Market is Simon Robson, part-owner of Moat Road Nursery.

Simon Robson, part-owner of Moat Road Nursery.

Simon Robson, part-owner of Moat Road Nursery. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

The 51-year-old travels to two markets a week, alongside running a garden centre.

He said the biggest struggle financially for him is the increased cost of utilities, as he uses equipment to help his stock: “Prices have increased quite a bit with our utilities, with the plants, they have to have electric lamps on them to keep them alive.

“Everyone’s price is going up, across the whole region. It does not matter what business you're running, costs are going up.

The stall of Moat Road Nursery on Fakenham market.

The stall of Moat Road Nursery on Fakenham market. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

“At the moment, it has been reasonably busy, but it's still early in the year. When the weather improves, hopefully it will bring people out to spend a little bit.

“I visit two markets every week, with the cost of fuel going up as well. It is an added expense, but we are still quite busy at them."

Across from Moat Road Nursery, you will find County Ventures, managed by Tony Leach.

Tony Leach, manager of County Ventures, on Fakenham market. 

Tony Leach, manager of County Ventures, on Fakenham market. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

He visits eight markets a week, so it is no surprise he is feeling the pinch at the pump.

“The main increase I am seeing in my cost is the price of filling up the car with diesel. It is nearly £100 a week more than I was spending a few months ago,” he said.

“I am also seeing an increase in the stock I purchase. When I go to my suppliers, the stuff from England is not too bad, but when I get stuff imported, I am seeing big increases.

The market stall of County Ventures, on Fakenham market.

The market stall of County Ventures, on Fakenham market. - Credit: Aaron McMillan

“The cost of millet, stuff you feed birds like Budgies with, I get that from China when I can. It used to cost me £35, it is now costing me £70.

“I visit eight markets a week, and despite the cost of fuel, I am still going to all of them because they are still making money, so I cannot stop going. I am just hoping I can ride it out until the prices start going down.

“Even if it is a fiver I am making when I go to a market, it is still five pounds profit."

Sacha Beales, owner of Drip Drop Bake Stop is another who spends her whole week taking her vans across Norfolk.

Sacha Beales, owner of Drip Drop Bake Stop.

Sacha Beales, owner of Drip Drop Bake Stop. - Credit: Tatyana Allenby

Despite increases, she is keeping the cost away from her customers.

“The fuel is having the biggest impact on us," she said.

"I am constantly having to fill up and it is costing a fortune. It is probably costing me £300 more a month.

“I have a full staff, so I have to be at the eight markets each week, even when I am running at a loss. I keep the staff here because when the days get better in the summer I will need them.

“Despite these increases, I do not want to raise the price for the customer as of yet.”