So I was able to speak to Mr Brian Sexton at last in a face-to-face interview. I wasn’t able to record this due to the fact that he had been away on holiday when I had sent my original email, and when I went into the market to ask if he was in, it was my luck he was in the office.
So I was able to speak to him about the questions I had asked, with him going into detail for all the questions.
#1: Is the market busy all the time? Yes If so, what days are the busiest? Saturday then Friday
This question was asked to first off all to get an idea if the market attracts many customers to the area. This was an important question as it would be the tale-tale sign if it is on the right tracks. I then asked which days were the busiest because when it comes to recording I want to go on a day that is doing well.
#2: Is there a good footfall? Second busiest shop in the area; Primark is the busiest.
The wording for this question is slightly weird, but if you were to look up footfall, one of its definitions is “the number of people entering a shop or shopping area in a given time.”
This was to see if actually any of the supermarkets was competitively busy with the market. However, I was surprised to find out that actually Primark was the busiest, with the Market coming in second. I suppose this is because that Primark itself advertises the shop quite well, and its presence is hard to miss. I was just surprised that there were no supermarkets that were fighting for this top spot, although I would presume they wouldn’t be too far behind.
#3: Has the market ever felt threatened by the amount of supermarkets in the area? No
This was a lead on question from #2, as if the answer had been that the supermarkets were getting more customers, this question would of looked into if the market were doing anything to stop this threat or just letting it carry on.
However, with the answer being that the market is second busiest, I suppose that why would they feel threatened at all when they are managing to out do their ‘competitors.’
#4: Have these supermarkets caused a decline in customers/ stall owners? No
This was an interesting question, because you would think that with there being supermarkets in the area, you would think that the number of stalls would have declined. Rather, Mr Sexton said that less the 5% of the stalls in the market were closed, which is quite extraordinary. And this fact was boosted with that there was a low turnover as well.
Rather, the stall owners are still working well due to the fact that with some of them being refugees/ coming from other countries, they were actually supplying people from their own nationality and area, which supermarkets themselves couldn’t do at all. This has provided them with a good income and reputation with customers, meaning they have nothing to worry about at all.
#5: Is the market still performing as well as it did 20 years ago? Differently
This was the killer question that would answer my question. And I was expecting an answer that the market would be performing differently, but it was the positive/negative aspect I was looking for.
And Mr Sexton said that the market was performing better than it used to. Years ago the market used to be the place that you would be able to get your fresh fruit, veg, meat and fish . And eventually supermarkets were able to catch up to this trend, making it slightly harder for markets.
However, Mr Sexton said that Coventry Market was now what could be seen as a specialist market, as the market was able to offer various items that you wouldn’t see in your typical shops; he used an example of Hoover bags. In many supermarkets, you would struggle to find that particular item, yet in the market there was someone selling there.
This led on to him saying that eventually there will be a “rebellion against the restriction of services” from the public. By this, he meant that when the public wants a particular item, they think that supermarkets would have them, as we have grown up thinking that they carry everything (and in some of the bigger ones they do.) Yet the public becomes frustrated when they can’t access this service. So he believes that eventually the public might abandon supermarkets to use these services, which in Coventry Market’s case, provides.
I then asked a follow up question from this, asking if the public’s image of declining markets was right as a response question. And he said that actually the public had a wrong image, as everything wasn’t, as it seemed. In Coventry’s case, it was actually the smaller shops that were suffering slightly from the supermarkets, but Coventry was pushing on strongly.
Partly for this was that the market was able to adapt and evolve quickly to the customers; supermarkets might have research that would suggest in sixth month’s time a certain item/food will become popular and would have stocked up. But with the market, they are able to supply this within the week with no problem at all.
Overall the interview was very useful, bring up the background info that was so badly needed to give context to my research, and for the video as well. However, unfortunately I was not able to speak to Mary Portas, as with the amount of email’s and questions sent to her, she wasn’t able to respond at all.