A COOPERATIVE market that has been selling homemade cakes and crafts in Swindon for more than 30 years will close its doors for the last time this week.

The Swindon Country Market will trade for the last time this Friday after managers said the dramatic drop in footfall over the last six months means it's no longer viable - forcing them to move over to Highworth.

The market, which promotes British produce and homemade baked goods, preserves, and crafts, has been based in the current premises in St Aldhelm's Church hall behind the Brunel Shopping Centre for around 20 years.

Before that it had been based at the Wyvern Theatre where it had traded for more than ten years.

Gillian Grant, who has been involved with the market in Swindon over the years, told the Adver the location in the town centre was making it hard to attract the right customers.

"We just want to say thank you to all our customers for being there," she said.

"It's always been a pleasure to be in Swindon, we've got quite a history here, but homemade doesn't seem to strike a chord anymore.

"But also where we are at the moment nobody looks to shop," she said, "it's so run down, it's quite depressing."

Tough trading conditions have forced the store to reduce its opening days from once a week down to once a month.

Gillian said the shop would only see five or six people walk through the doors, and used to make £20,000 a year at the Wyvern Theatre, but now struggles to make half that.

"In Swindon it's like a desert, it's dreadful," she added.

"The situation has got so bad, we've been losing money since April.

"We don't pay business rates but however hard we tried still haven't been able to make it work.

"The people in Highworth seems to be more interested in what we're selling."

The last day of trading for the Swindon Country Market will be this Friday, from 9.30 until 12am.

The first Country Market in Highworth will be on December 15 and will be once a month.

There are also two nearby country markets in Wroughton and Cricklade, part of a network of 300 similar markets which run across the UK.

The Country Market cooperative has been running for more than 90 years and encourages shoppers to support British produce and small producers and craftspeople. All produce is sold cooperatively and all revenue from sales go to them, minus a small commission.