By Sean Car
The CEO of Queen Victoria Market (QVM) Stan Liacos said market traders needed the support of local shoppers more than ever to weather the “major economic storm”.
Like so many, the impacts of COVID-19 have been unprecedented for the market’s traders. But Mr Liacos said that current rules around staying within a 5km radius imposed under stage 4 lockdowns had been “absolutely debilitating”.
“There are virtually no city workers and no students,” he said. “Our research shows that about only 32 per cent of our usual customer base live within five kilometres of the market.”
With patronage down to between 25 and 30 per cent of usual traffic flows and only 120 of the market’s more than 600 traders currently operating, he said the market had extended a 75 per cent reduction in rent relief for traders until the end of November.
QVM Pty Ltd has taken a major hit during this period, with around 50 per cent of its staff temporarily stood down or made redundant and Mr Liacos said it had been forced to draw on borrowings for the first time.
But he said he was proud to continue providing generous support to traders of which he said without, there would be no market.
“The market has never, ever experienced anything like this before,” he said. “Our company has had to sustain 90 per cent less revenue through this economic storm but we’ve done this because we’re driven by an absolute commitment to support the traders.”
“We need everybody that does live within our core catchment at the moment to support the market. We’re not getting the degree of local custom that we’d hope for at the moment and we’d urge you all to support the market now more than ever.”
The City of Melbourne said it was using the quieter times to fast track its renewal program for the market, with workers onsite to deliver the $30 million restoration of the 12 heritage sheds. One hectare of solar panels will also be installed across the sheds and market buildings, with works due to be completed by mid-2022 •