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CHRISTMAS is taking on extra significance for market traders in Swansea as they ride out the current lockdown, with one saying he was now paying staff out of his own pocket.

Many of the stalls are temporarily closed because they are deemed non-essential retail, and with much of the city centre in hibernation it means less footfall for those who are continuing to trade.

For Keith Howard, the boss of eaterie, Thai Taste, it simply hasn’t been worth opening, but he hopes for better things when the national fire-break ends on November 9.

“We need about 100 customers a day to break even – I’ve got quite a lot of staff who do the food preparation every day – and at the moment it’s just not viable,” he said.

“We make everything fresh, and the minimum staff we need is four.”

Mr Howard still answers the mobile phone which customers use to order with, and he said he’s had just 10 calls over the last three days.

He revealed he was paying his “very loyal” Thai staff out of his own pocket this week and next.

“After that I’m hoping we can earn a bit of money and cover our costs,” he said.

“I think the whole market is banking on a decent Christmas.

“It’s all about survival now.”

Mr Howard has retained his four staff, and said they were desperate to come back to work.

Reflecting on the past few months, he said his takings were hit after the first lockdown because he was unable to serve sit-down customers due to social distancing, but that things did begin to pick up.

“Then they brought in the mask rule,” he said. “The first Monday after that we didn’

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