Traditional markets have played a significant role in the UK's towns and cities for centuries and, in more recent times, have particularly supported deprived neighbourhoods by providing affordable food and start-up business opportunities as well as fostering social inclusion in increasingly diverse cities. However, they have been affected by radical changes in global retail trends and public sector cuts which are relegating them to the side-lines. At the same time, markets aimed at high income shoppers and tourists, specialising in food, local produce, fashion and crafts, are on the rise. Our research responded to an urgent to understand the current situation of markets and their potential community value.
Our findings enable a new way to understand the community value which traditional markets offer, whilst connecting existing academic and policy literature. Building on national and international public discourse around traditional markets, we invited a range of people with an interest in traditional markets, including policy makers, market operators and managers, traders and representatives from charity organisations and campaign groups, to take part in interviews and workshops, to find out how they understand their community value. In order to gain an in-depth understanding of markets users' experiences we conducted interviews, focus groups and a large market user survey in three case-study markets. Our findings have resulted in publications and toolkits aimed at supporting the work of all of the groups we have worked with, who have an interest in the future of traditional markets.
Our research evidences the following ways in which traditional markets create community value:
- Economic, as places that provide affordable food, products and services as well as creating opportunities for low cost business start-ups.
- Social, as platforms for social mobility and the development of community ties and trust leading to better social inclusion.
- Cultural, as spaces for experiencing a diversity of cultures and ethnicities and provide a sense of place for migrants, ethnic minorities and generally vulnerable citizens.
A range of perspectives
Our team consulted a wide range of stakeholders to gain a broad understanding of how the community value of markets is understood. Follow the links below to find out more about our work with each of these groups.