Preserve part of community life - and get a bargain

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In today’s world, when time is short, it’s tempting to do our shopping at supermarkets.

The stores are now so big with so many product ranges that we can get most things in one go.

Plus, they’re open all hours so we can visit at a time that fits in with our busy lives.

Driving to a store, filling our trolleys and then heading home with the weekly shop is convenient.

We also think we’re saving money.

But is that true? Not according to Travis Beaumont, who runs a fruit and salad market stall in Portsmouth’s Commercial Road.

He says: ‘People have become accustomed to having everything under one roof. And for some reason they think it’s cheaper. But some places sell mangos for up to £3 while I do them three for a £1 or 50 pence each.’

Of course it’s not just price that should make us stop and consider the alternative of markets when writing out our shopping lists.

Stallholders like Travis bring something special to local life. They are carrying on a tradition that should not be lost.

As Barry Walker, who manages the city’s markets for Portsmouth City Council, says: ‘Markets are one of the things that bring vitality and vibrancy to a centre. They are essential in terms of creating energy in streets.’

But market traders are having a tough time of it as they try to compete with supermarket giants, who are not only looking to open more out-of-town stores but also High Street convenience shops to capitalise on occasional purchases and the ‘top-up’ buys of staples such as bread, milk, fruit and veg.

Travis reckons it’s only people who have moved to the UK from parts of the world such as Africa or the West Indies, where buying produce from markets is very much part of the culture, who have kept the stalls alive.

So next time you plan to get in the car and head for a big supermarket, stop and think what you could buy from market stalls instead.

You may well get a great deal – and you’ll be helping to preserve part of community life into the bargain.