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‘Virtual shop’ at Leeds Kirkgate Market

NEW TO THE MARKET: An interactive 3D map will soon allow shoppers to click and collect from Kirkgate Market in Leeds.

NEW TO THE MARKET: An interactive 3D map will soon allow shoppers to click and collect from Kirkgate Market in Leeds.

GAMING technology will soon allow Leeds shoppers to buy fresh fruit, meat and veg or even clothes and knick-knacks from the city’s Kirkgate Market - and all without having to leave the comfort of their own homes.

A partnership between Leeds City Council and Leeds Metropolitan University will see hi-tech computer wizardry usually associated with PlayStations and X-Boxes used to create a virtual 3D version of the market online.

Shoppers will be able to visit stalls, “meet” traders and buy produce, purely by the click of a mouse - and then collect their purchases later, even outside normal shopping hours.

Funded by grants from the Small Business Research Initiative, the £100,00 pilot project will be developed alongside the £12.5m redevelopment of the real market as new methods are sought to help attract shoppers back to the high street.

Online shoppers will be able to zoom in on specific stalls to discover special offers while the finished online platform will look like the real Kirkgate Market, including photos of the real thing stitched onto the 3D map.

Leeds City Council’s executive member for development and economy Coun Richard Lewis said: “This is a new and exciting concept for the market.

“The market’s traditional values will be supported by e-commerce, bringing more people to the actual market, not just the online version. The click-and-collect concept has massive potential. It could open up a new world of opportunities with traders embracing the digital economy in a way they haven’t been able to up until now.”

Professor Catherine Barnes of Leeds Metropolitan University, added: “We believe offering the convenience of online retailing in a market environment could put Leeds and Kirkgate Market in a great place to take advantage of the future retailing landscape.”

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