THREE stalls on Bolton Market — two of which have traded for a quarter of a century — are shutting down.

Beauty Bargains, 32 Menswear, and Butty-Licious are all closing their stalls at the town centre market, and blame a decline in footfall for a recent downturn in business.

The Bolton News reported last month that stallholders were worried about a drop in trade since the closure of the old Moor Lane bus station.

However, council bosses say that most traders have enjoyed a 'tremendous' festive period and that the market 'continues to thrive'.

Amanda McKeon, who has run Butty-Licious at the Ashburner Street market for two years, says she now fears for the entire market's future.

She said: "The footfall in the market just isn't good enough and I'm not happy with the way things are now.

"The bus station closing down has been a real problem for us.

"I am not able to cover my costs anymore and the council has not been willing to discuss any reduction in rent or anything like that.

"Things have been wrong for months and, to be honest, I'm glad to be going.

"In a few months, I don't think there will be a market here.

"The council don't care about the traders, it is all about money now."

Beauty Bargains will be leaving Bolton to move to Bury Market after 24 years, while 32 Menswear has been going for 25.

Its owner, who asked not to be named, said: "I have been here for 25 years, a very long time.

"But business has gone dramatically down in the past few months and the market has gone downhill.

"It is very hard to make a living, or even to cover the rent now. Staying open has just become impossible for me.

"We have tried to approach the council about some rent relief, but we couldn't get it.

"I don't want to go, but I am being forced out because I can't afford it anymore.

"I know that a lot of people here aren't making much money.

"This is a quite traditional stall and my customers are very loyal, so I am sorry for them."

A council spokesman said: “We hold regular meetings with the market Traders’ Association to discuss how we can work together to develop the market and improve things for everyone, and we take all concerns seriously.

“We have more than 160 stalls occupied and while a few traders have decided to move on or retire, the majority have enjoyed tremendous trade over the festive period with many selling out of products in the run-up to Christmas. One trader said December 23 was the busiest Saturday he’d seen for 25 years.

“We’ve invested heavily in the market in recent years as part of the wider town centre development and rents and service charge have been protected for the past nine years. The old bus station buildings had been in use since the 1980s and the town needed a new facility. The former bus station will make way for further development directly adjacent to the market, which is earmarked for housing and mixed use.

“The market continues to thrive and we have people interested in taking up the vacant units.”