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What do market users think?


Over the next week our project will be taking an exciting step forward by piloting a survey of market users in our three case study markets. We will be working with independent market research company Fieldwork Assistance to ask market users a series of questions about how they use the market and their views on its role within the community. By conducting the pilots, we’ll be able to assess whether we’re asking the right kind of questions or have overlooked any important aspect of how customers use or think about the market. We’ll use this information to revise the questionnaire before conducting a large-scale survey of 500 shoppers at each market.

Our aim for the survey is to understand and quantify the community value of traditional markets at a time when many of these markets face challenging circumstances (see our About page for further information). A summary of the anonymised survey results will be shared with each market’s management team, traders and market users and will be published on our website. As well as helping local authorities to enhance the community value of each market, the information we gather will enable us to share a more comprehensive measure of the value which traditional markets bring to society.


So what will we be asking?

We’ll begin with some introductory questions about visiting the market, to help us understand how these visits fit into the regular pattern of life for market users. For instance, we’re interested to know what mode of transport shoppers use and whether they have traveled from home or just popped in during a lunch break from work.

The next section of the survey asks shoppers what they buy in the market and how this relates to their shopping habits elsewhere, whether in shops or online. This will allow us to understand the role and value of the markets in conventional retail terms, and the market’s role in drawing customers into the wider high street or town centre. It will also give us an insight into the unique role and value of each market by identifying sought after goods and services which are difficult to source anywhere outside the market. For instance, this may be services such as clothing repairs, hobby supplies or goods specific to a market users’ ethnic, cultural or religious group. We’re interested in the impact that losing the market might have on these shoppers and how it might affect their shopping habits more widely.

Having found out a little about the economic aspect of market users’ shopping habits, we will move on to ask questions about the social and cultural aspects of shopping at the market, such as popular meeting places and use of seating areas. As well as interactions with friends and relatives, we’re keen to learn about the often low-key social exchanges and networks between regular market users and the traders they visit. For some this may mean a nod of recognition from another shopper, known by sight if not by name. For others, it could mean attending child-friendly events and activities and connecting with other parents in the area.

The next section of the survey asks how market users view the market and how they feel about its role within the community. There will also be an opportunity for people to tell us about any improvements they would like to see or the features of the market which are most important to them. We’ll then end by asking survey respondents to supply some demographic information about themselves, such as their age band, gender and ethnic origin. This will enable us compare how different groups use the market and also to compare each market’s customer base with the wider retail area. Of particular interest to us is the markets’ role in serving low-income, vulnerable and marginalised groups.


Want to tell us more?

At the end of each survey we’ll be asking each respondent whether they would like to take part in a short focus group with up to five other market users, in or close to the market. This will be an opportunity to elaborate on responses or comment on the results of the survey in a relaxed, informal setting, over a cuppa. Because we value market users offering their time and sharing their views in this way, we will provide a £20 voucher (or equivalent sum) to spend within the market, as a ‘thank you’ to each focus group participant.


How will we use and protect the data provided?

All the answers provided by market users will be treated in strict confidence: responses will be combined for analysis and no individuals will be identified in any reporting. Individual returns will not be made available to any third party, and after analysis the returns will be destroyed. The combined, anonymised data will be archived with the Consumer Data Research Centre at the University of Leeds.


When is this happening?

Fieldwork Assistance will be conducting pilots on 31st Jan (Grainger Market, Newcastle-upon-Tyne), 5th Feb (Queen’s Market, London) and 6th Feb (Bury Market). The full surveys will take place across a range of trading days at each market in March.

Contact us if you would like to know more about this aspect of our research or the project more generally. You can also follow us on Twitter @markets4people.