Larne Festive market ‘bled town dry’

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The owner of a Main Street shop has criticised the location of a promotional event on Small Business Saturday (December 6).

Robert Knox, proprietor, of Cobwebs, an antiques shop, said that opening Larne Market Yard, from 10.30 am until 3.30 pm, on a key trading day in the run-up to Christmas took business away from the town centre.

He claimed that the Saturday opening of the Station Road facility had “bled the town dry”.

Instead, he suggested that the stalls and other attractions could have been sited at Broadway which would have kept shoppers in the town centre’s main thoroughfare.

“I brought in extra staff thinking we were going to be busy.

“ I have no problem with the event but it would have been better at Broadway and maybe during the last week in November instead of two weeks before Christmas.

“Much to our frustration and disappointment, we found business in our shop, and many others, was terrible.

“Please keep business in the town centre as it helps to pay our rates.”

John Shannon, chairman of Larne Traders’ Forum, said that holding any event at the market yard would inevitably take some custom away from the town centre.

However, he pointed outthat the market yard was upgraded at a cost of £1.3 million and must be used.

He also suggested that the recent opening of the Home Bargains store at Circular Road had “sucked people” out of the town centre.

“That’s competition and the internet is another major competitor.”