MARKET traders in South Shields signed up to a Santa ‘Clause’ yesterday – despite opposition from some in their ranks.
Stallholders were offered a rent reduction if they decorated their pitch in festive decorations or donned Christmas gear – including Santa hats.
The plans for the festive market received a ‘bah humbug’ response from traders Robert Ridley and Lynn Lucas.
Mr Ridley branded the £5 discount off a daily rent of £15 as an “insult”, and claimed the local authority was “making mugs” out of the town’s stallholders.
But at yesterday’s market, the idea had the support of the majority of traders, with many wearing Santa hats and stalls brightly decorated.
One of the more enthusiastic endorsements came from Michelle Dunning, who has operated a clothes stall in the Market Place for more than 20 years.
Mrs Dunning, who dressed in a Santa outfit, said: “I really can’t understand why any trader would want to complain about this.
“It’s just a bit of harmless fun and a chance to save a fiver a day. It’s perfectly in keeping with the spirit of Christmas, and it brightens up the market.”
Another trader, who did not wish to be named, added: “I’m daft as a brush anyway, so I didn’t need to be persuaded to wear a Santa hat and throw a bit of tinsel on the stall.
“I probably would have done it anyway, to be honest.
“If your stall is a bit brighter, a bit more inviting, more shoppers are likely to stop and have a look what’s on offer.
“It’s a good idea.”
South Tyneside Council described the discount rent offer as a “light-hearted incentive” to provide some festive cheer.