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BBC World Service

Crisis means less for traders and shoppers

Justin Rowlatt Nov 2, 2011
BBC World Service

Crisis means less for traders and shoppers

Justin Rowlatt Nov 2, 2011

Kai Ryssdal: We started today with flowers.

Justin Rowlatt: We’re going to end with fruit.

Ryssdal: Equally perishable, equally global.

Rowlatt: Think for a minute about where those grapes you might have had today probably came from.

Ryssdal: And, as you found out the other day, Justin, equally vulnerable to the European crisis.

Rowlatt: So I’ve come down to what used to be one of London’s busiest markets — to Portobello Road — to find out how people here feel about their future. Now, this place on the weekends is absolutely heaving. But during the week, it is a pale shadow of its weekend self.

Market trading is in fruit seller Peter Cain’s blood. But at the moment, he’s struggling.

Peter Cain: My family’s been here three, four generations, like a lot of other store owners down here. The supermarkets, you know, they killed the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker — they’ve done them all.

Rowlatt: But you’ve got more problems, haven’t you? Because you import a lot of this stuff from Europe. Presumably the prices of fruit from Europe have gone up because of the exchange rate?

Cain: Absolutely.

Rowlatt: So you’ve got some oranges there from Spain. How’s the price changed on those?

Cain: Well they’ve doubled in price.

Rowlatt: Doubled?

Cain: They doubled. All fruit has doubled in price. All fruit. From South Africa, from Europe, it’s all doubled in price.

Rowlatt: So how is that affecting you personally?

Cain: Personally, well I’m looking for a money lender. That’s how it’s affecting me personally, it’s not good, mate. It’s awful, it’s just awful. Just look.

Rowlatt: I’m looking either way down the street.

Cain: Can you see how many market traders are out today?

Rowlatt: Normally the market would be full. We’ve got, what, three market traders out? And then we’ve got how many customers are out there on the street?

Cain: Four?

Rowlatt: Where do you see this thing out?

Cain: I really don’t think so. No.

Rowlatt: Are you serious or are you just…

Cain: No, I’m serious. I am serious. I mean, I’m the last person to do this, my father, before that my grandfather, before that and all that, all that ago. I’ve got a daughter who works in advertising, I’m sure she don’t want to be standing here in the market, you know.

Rowlatt: Cheers, Peter. Thank you very much.


Rowlatt: Have you got a moment?

Julian: I do.

Rowlatt: How’s the economy, the changes in the economy, have they affected you?

Julian: Yeah, of course. For starters, it’s hard to get work. So I’m out of work.

Rowlatt: You’re unemployed?

Julian: I’m unemployed.

Rowlatt: Do you think that’s a result of the kind of recession that Britain’s been going through?

Julian: Yeah, definitely, because I work as a gardener. I go basically from contract to contract. And I’ve noticed that there’s less work, so I’m spending sort of more time at home.

Rowlatt: And what about shopping? What about going out and buying things here in the market?

Julian: I’ve noticed in the supermarkets, there’s been a few instances where I’ve got home and I’ve been certain that I’ve forgotten a bag at the supermarket. And all it is is that things are just much more expensive. You’re just getting a lot less for the same amount of money.

Ryssdal: That’s kind of amazing, forgetting that shopping bag thing — it’s like a shopping bag indicator.

Rowlatt: Yeah, a blinding insight there, Kai.

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