The push for more hours and more customer convenience can have downsides and SBA Traders are starting to feel the pinch.
Traders in String Bean Alley started regular trading on a Thursday from this week. This is all part of a plan to bring SBA trading in line with the rest of the market. Tuesday trading is to start later in July, but a number of SBA Traders have asked for a stay of execution.
The problem is that while the rest of the Upper Market trades 5 days, individual Traders can choose whether or not to trade, but in permanent containers there really isn’t a choice. If SBA is open then all participants are expected to trade.
And many SBA Traders are unique - they are manufacturing Traders. SBA is an aisle focusing on small artisan type manufacturing businesses. The problem here is that manufacturing requires workshop time and Traders can’t be in two places at once. Five days trading plus a night market doesn’t leave much time for manufacturing.
Of course it is possible to staff a container and this was the issue faced in shopping centres in the past when they went to 7 days trading and were forced to roster staff. But turning over hundreds of thousands of dollars in a shopping centre gives you a lot more financial flexibility than most market traders enjoy, certainly in the Upper Market.
QVM’s push for more hours is understandable. Customer convenience is a prime driver in this retail revolution and customers are demanding more access. And of course QVM earn their income mainly from rent. They would be neglecting their corporate responsibility if they didn’t look to maximise new rental opportunities.
So we have a push for more hours which will increase the pressure on small manufacturing businesses. At least two manufacturing businesses in SBA do staff their containers already to create manufacturing flexibility although that is not necessarily feasible for all Traders.
Thursday trading is new for SBA and adjoining L Shed. Clearly it will take time to get the precinct fully populated and operating to maximum potential. Maybe the answer is to put a hold on the introduction of Tuesday trading until Traders are able to properly work out what that potential is.
By Greg Smith.