STALL holders on an award-winning market fear trade is on the verge of collapse with over a third of outdoor stalls standing empty.

The Grade-Two listed Accrington Market Hall is considered one of the town’s architectural gems and was reopened after a £2million refurbishment two years ago.

Just a year later it was voted Britain's best indoor market.

But the outdoor three-day market is struggling after 15 out of 37 stalls were empty last Tuesday and Friday. Several stalls were also empty on Saturday.

Ian McLaine, who runs a book stall on the outdoor market, said: “Things are quite bad at the moment.

“The weather is rubbish and there are no customers. The roof on the outdoor part has vents in that just let the wind and rain gust through.

“It puts people off and some stalls just didn’t survive the winter. I will still be here no matter what because I enjoy the job. Some stall holders are gone for good though.”

Ben Hall, who runs All Fruits greengrocery stall, said: “There isn’t much footfall. With so many shops having closed, people go elsewhere."

Ian Smith, who runs an indoor butchers’ stall, said: “We lost two indoor sellers between now and Christmas, the furniture shop and the fresh bread stall. It is bad times and people are just getting very fed up.”

One trader, who asked not to be named, said: “People only just about got through Christmas and then it never picked up again. People were leaving so regularly week after week we all just got used to it.” The three-day general retail market operates on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Second hand goods and car boot sales also operate alongside new goods the rest of the week.

Hyndburn Council’s 2012/13 rates for leasing stalls are £18 per stall per day for casual traders. A weekly three-day licence starts at £37.50 per week per stall.

Deputy council leader Clare Pritchard who oversees markets said: “It’s winter and you do usually see a dip in stalls at this time. The markets are full in the summer. “There is also the recession and times are hard. When new stall holders are contacting us we are talking to them about incentives and discounts that we can offer them.”