Camden Market reopens with more shops set to return

Camden Market. Picture: Labs Group

Camden Market. Picture: Labs Group - Credit: Labs Group

Camden Market reopened last week in the latest stage of the easing of lockdown, although it is unclear if and when it will be fully back to its vibrant self.

Under a phased approach, tenants are slowly returning to their businesses in a new socially distanced reality.

Strict safety measures, including one-way systems and public hand sanitiser stations, are in place across the market for both traders and customers.

Stake Haus owner Lily Bovey, 28, said: “Camden is usually such a bustling area of good energy. It feels like its soul has been drained away from it.

“Every day that passes, I feel that people are being braver to come down, but it is of course incredibly slow transition.

“The whole point of street food is the hustle and bustle vibe of it all.”

The market’s landlord, Labtech, imposed a rent-free period to cover lockdown, which allowed tenants to trade freely through use of app food-delivery services.

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However, since fast-food giants like McDonalds and KFC returned online, small eateries like Lily’s have struggled.

Owner of The Camden Grocer, Scott Winston, 42, said: “What takes some of the pressure off is that everyone from the market is in the same boat.

“We have to look for the positives and potential opportunities here.

“Camden is usually heaving with tourism, which is brilliant, but maybe this down-time will prompt residents to venture back into the areas, like the market, they might have avoided before.”

During lockdown, The Camden Grocer went online and served as an e-commerce platform for people to buy essential goods.

Having built a strong online customer base, Scott hopes that as lockdown eases these people will travel out to use their click-and-collect service or visit them in store for a coffee on a Saturday morning.

For the foreseeable future, traders will be expected to adhere to restrictions per government guidelines, including limiting the number of customers entering at any one time, maintaining a strict cleaning regime, and accepting card payments only, where possible. 

Up to 80 per cent of traders will be participating and from the June 15 its retail traders will also start to reopen.