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The organisers, who have been trying to come up with an effective solution to the ongoing problem of early leaving for a number of years, have asked those dealers who did stay for suggestions to persuade the others to join them.

The extremely cold weather at the February Newark fair, where temperatures didn’t rise above freezing on the Thursday and Friday, prompted a large number of stallholders to leave the fair early, DMG’s marketing controller, Mike Turner, told ATG. This, in turn, caused the organisers a number of problems with complaints from buyers who visited the fair on Saturday.

One visitor to the fair who contacted ATG over the issue complained that up to 90 per cent of stallholders on outside pitches had packed up early and left. 

“The situation was very bad on Saturday,” said Mr Turner. “While we can appreciate that the weather was a factor, it is very frustrating when we work hard to attract buyers yet the stallholders leave early. This is not a new issue and happened when the fair was held on Monday and Tuesday.”

DMG also pointed out that, as well as affecting buyers, stallholders who leave early also damage the business of those that stay for all three days.

“At the fair, many stallholders have really good trade on Saturday, but those who are left in buildings where many stallholders have left are badly affected,” said senior fairs manager Alan Yourston. “Buyers look into the buildings, see the spaces and feel it isn’t worth going inside.”

Stallholders raised this problem at a recent breakfast meeting, and now DMG’s management team have asked for suggestions from the stallholders who stayed for all three days. They will be holding a meeting in March with stallholders and other members of the DMG team to try to develop a plan to improve the situation for future fairs.

Mr Turner noted that at least some of those who stayed renewed their stock on the Saturday to cater for the change from trade to public buying, and they seemed to fare well as a result. But there is a feeling that some stallholders are simply not interested in the public and only want to sell on trade days.

Operations manager Rachel Everett will be playing an important role in any organisational changes.

“There are a number of ideas on the table and we must ensure that whatever steps we take are for the good of the stallholders that stay at the fair and for the buyers. There is a lot of money spent at the Newark fair on Saturday and we are surprised that in the current trading conditions, so many dealers feel that they can ignore the public buyers.”

DMG hope that decisions taken at the meeting in March will be introduced over the next two fairs.