TRADERS at Barnsley Market returned to the venue on Wednesday after almost a month without trading - though they are hopeful customers will return to their stalls in the run-up to Christmas.

As part of the second lockdown this year all non-essential shops were forced to close, which saw number of stalls to shut up shop from November 5 - leaving many traders frustrated with the new rules.

However the same traders are now hopeful that Barnsley folk will return to the market now it is safe to do so, giving stallholders the opportunity to claw some of the funds back they have previously lost.

Luke Burkinshaw, 34, of Tanfield Close in Royston, runs Gifted-UK and was left frustrated that many garden centres and stores across the country were able to remain open selling the same stock as him while he was forced to close.

He told the Chronicle: “Over the past month we’ve just been planning on getting back open and sorting out our stock management.

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“We’ve priced up a lot of Christmas stock because obviously before the virus we purchased a lot - we’ve been able to sell some of it online and we’ve had a good response on social media so we’re hoping that it goes well.

“We’ve got two to three weeks to give it our last push before Christmas and we are hopeful that people will come to the market to shop - it’s all a bit up in the air about whether or not they are going to feel safe enough.”

Luke says that every sale in the run-up to Christmas will be a ‘bonus’ for him, and insists the safety measures and precautions put in place by the council are great quality.

“We’re going to try and claw back as much money back as we possibly can - every sale we make is a bonus to us,” he said.

“We want to have a fair shot at it like all the other businesses have who sell the same stock as we do but were allowed to remain open - that’s the most frustrating thing.”

Having opened on Wednesday, Luke said that the customers have made lots of positive remarks about the reopening of the market.

“It was a really, really positive day,” he added.

“I feel that a lot of our customers have waited until we opened back up to by some of our products - it’s really nice to be back and I’m looking forward to seeing some more people as we move forward.”

Nickie Higgs, 30, of Athersley, runs a sweet shop in the market and says he is confident that Barnsley residents will support local businesses.

He added: “Our main aim is survival - if we’re still able to open when Boris Johnson tells us everything is back to normal then we’ve achieved what we wanted to.

“We’ve lost a lot of money due to the virus, definitely in the thousands, as we’ve had to get rid of stock because it’s perishable - though we are confident in the fact that Barnsley people will come and support us.

“Before we were forced to close due to Covid it was the busiest time I’ve seen at the market as a trader and I don’t think that gets mentioned enough.

“The council supported us 100 per cent throughout the pandemic, I couldn’t thank them enough.”

Coun Tim Cheetham, cabinet spokesperson for place, said: “We’re delighted that the market is fully reopen in time for Christmas.

“Our traders like other businesses across the country have had a difficult year because of the pandemic, but hopefully they can begin to bounce back over the festive period.

“We have all the right safety measures in place for shoppers visiting the market and town centre, and we’re asking everyone to help keep themselves, fellow shoppers and traders safe by following the guidance in place.

“But if you don’t feel quite ready to visit, remember the market now offers click and collect and delivery options through, while the new Barnsley Gift Card can be spent on select stalls in the market for up to 12 months after purchase.

“The market has everything you need for Christmas from food to gifts and more, and by shopping locally, you’re helping to support our fantastic traders.

“Get behind our local businesses and support our economy by keeping the pound in Barnsley.”