PROFIT from Dorchester market continues to slide – although some of the shortfall may be partially due to over-optimistic financial projections at the start of the financial year.

The two councils which run the market operation are expected to see a £29,400 drop on the expected figures by April.

That will mean Dorset Council taking £48,340 and Dorchester Town Council £26,030 - compared to the predicted figures at the start of the financial year of £61,800 and £33,280.

At this stage the amounts are only estimates because Ensors, who manage the Wednesday stall market and Sunday car boot sales, have only reported their balance sheets to the end of November.

Another fall in income has been from the Sunday car boot sales - from just under £20,000 to £11,200 which will have an effect on local charitable organisations. All of the profits each year from the weekly Sunday event being shared among community groups.

Looking ahead to the 2024-25 financial year the main market is expected to see a 5% increase in fees and charges although traders who operate a small daily market from Cornhill, and the market café, are subject to a separate agreement which will see their rental remain stable.

Ensors say they have seen a drop of almost 7per cent in income from the Wednesday market and 11.6 per cent from the Sunday car boot up until November.

John George, from the company, told Wednesday’s joint markets panel: “Trading from 1st April 2023 to 30th November 2023 has been generally difficult in uncertain times when recent high inflation and interest rates have resulted in the public having less money to spend. Trading has also been affected by weather conditions resulting in the number of traders and public attending the market and car boot sales going down when the weather has been bad.”

The statement also has a dig at the two councils, who have made the decision to end Ensor’s legal contract when it runs out in 2026.

“With the council's decision to invite open market tenders from other operators when our current lease runs out in 2026, our usual plea for capital investment and improvements is no longer relevant now, but we would like to put on record that we have been pointing out for the last 10 years that times have changed and alterations and capital investment are needed.”

A start date has been confirmed for the first of a new series of monthly Sunday markets for Dorchester – April 28th.

Dorset Artisan Markets Ltd will be running the new venture in the county town on the fourth Sunday of each month from April through to November. The market will operate from the Borough Gardens, Bowling Alley Walk and lower South Street from 11.30am, to not compete with the car boot.

Other dates being planned are Sunday 26 May, Sunday 23 June, Sunday 28 July, Sunday 25 August Sunday 22 September, Sunday 27 October, and Sunday 24 November.