With images of empty supermarket shelves and panic buying dominating TV and computer screens, a visit to Bradford’s Oastler Market seems like a welcome step back to how shopping used to be.
Greengrocer stalls still have plenty of fruit and veg, butchers are well stocked and serving customers who are shopping in the market for the first time, and one stall even has bags of pasta and spaghetti available.
Traders said that although the effects of the Coronavirus was still putting strain on stalls – with wholesale prices rising for some goods and increased demand effecting deliveries for others, the traditional market style of shopping seems to so far be coping with the crisis much better than the larger stores.
A trip on Friday afternoon proved to be the perfect tonic from recent visits to some of the bigger supermarkets, with a much more relaxed feel.
Greengrocer Ash Mahmood from Solly’s Fruit and Veg said his store had been able to maintain much of its stock, including items that were fast vanishing from supermarket shelves.
“He said: “We’re getting a lot more customers who don’t normally come here. We’ve been managing to maintain most of the stock. There has been an increase in sales, but we don’t know when that is going to end.”
However, some stock was now more expensive to get hold of.
He said: “A lot of things at this time of year are coming from Spain or Europe, things like carrots and swedes are in very high demand. We can’t get enough potatoes – they are costing double the amount. We’re struggling a bit to get some things in.
“Some items that come from Asia like Okra have seen a 100 per cent increase in price. Some items are now double or triple the price to order.
“A lot of people think the markets are going to be closing down – we’ll be open as long as we can – the food industry can’t shut down. People need to eat. People might have to go back to basics.
“The Council have told us they won’t be closing stalls down.”
Roswitha Delicatessen still has a wide variety of Italian foods, including a variety of pasta – something that has seemed more like gold dust than a basic food in the past week. Gunther Giangregorio from the deli said: “Markets work well, they are a really good place to shop – you can social distance and there isn’t a lot of cross contamination. We can get products from a variety of different suppliers. It works a lot differently than a supermarket.
“If we go into lockdown we’re planning on doing deliveries.”
Rowan Smillie, on the Exotic Food stall, said people have become used to getting a “quick fix” with pre prepared meals. He said the current situation may lead to more people cooking from scratch using fresh ingredients.
Fishmonger Neil Priestly said he, like many people, had seen the depleted shelves in supermarkets in the past week. He said: “We’ve had our regulars buying a little bit more, but we haven’t had anyone panic buying.
“The Council have told us to stay open if there is a lock down. If people continue to get their fish from here then it puts less strain on other outlets like supermarkets.
“We’ll be doing more deliveries to help people out.”
Jay Smith of Hutchinson Butchers said the high demand was leading to deliveries to the stall arriving much later than usual – but items were still arriving. He said: “All butchers are ordering more and more food, so suppliers hare having to deliver more and more.
“We’ve got our regular customers, and customers who are now coming to us because they can’t buy certain meats in the supermarket. We can still supply them.
“Chicken seems to be really popular. It is a good standby food that kids like too.”