AN INDOOR market designed to give small traders an opportunity to thrive after the Covid pandemic has closed just seven months after opening.

The Leigh Artisan Market opened in November in the former CostCutter store in Leigh Road.

The project featured 10 upmarket stalls, with fruit and vegetables sold alongside craft stalls, a beer garden and a cafe.

Now, just seven months after the grand opening, the market’s last stall has closed down, with plans believed to be in motion for the scheme to be replaced by a tapas bar and wine cellar.

Leigh resident Maureen Wilks, 72, says she will miss shopping at the market.

“It was my favourite place to do a bit of shopping,” she said.

“They always had such wonderful bits and bobs on sale and I will miss it dearly.”

Laurie Burton, Blenheim Park councillor, said: “As a councillor I have always been a strong supporter of local businesses.

“The Artisan Market is a fantastic space that brought together a range of local providers under one roof.

"It would be a huge shame to lose it so soon, especially as it was the only space of its kind in Leigh.”

Mr Burton, who was a guest at the market’s grand opening last year, added: “Whilst a tapas or wine bar is better than an empty shop, there are plenty of those in Leigh already, whereas the Artisan Market is one of a kind.”

The market had featured eight permanent traders in the market, with two pop-up counters for short-term businesses to use seasonally.

Another Blenheim Park councillor, Keith Evans, believes the closure represents residents changing shopping habits, with more people moving online.

“The concept of it was really good, to help smaller businesses get back on their feet,” he said.

“But sadly, it’s closing as clearly it didn’t quite attract the footfall it needed to survive.

“I think its reflective of people’s shopping habits in the modern age.”

He added: “A lot of effort was put into it making this a success so it is a crying shame to see these happen when we are trying to keep the high street alive.”