Manchester Metropolitan University

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Local markets key to high street success

Traditional retail increases footfall by 25%

The graph illustrates the market effect on footfall in five UK towns

TRADITIONAL local markets directly contribute to the health of the high street by increasing the number of shoppers by a quarter, new research shows.

In the first report of its kind, the wide-ranging impact of markets has been shown to have a multitude of benefits for towns and retail centres struggling to combat internet and out-of-town shopping.

More than 25 positive effects of local and farmers’ markets are outlined in the report ‘Markets Matter: Reviewing The Evidence & Detecting The Market Effect’, published today (April 16).

Despite being an ancient form of trading, research has shown it to still be relevant in today’s cutthroat commercial environment with markets worth £10.5billion to the UK economy.

Ancient attraction

Some of the benefits of a market outlined include: increasing footfall by 25 per cent, easy access to starting a business, knock-on effects for other businesses, flexibility and resilience to commercial trends, affordable, provide social interaction and an identity, and often occupy underused space.

The report was published by Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and The Institute of Place Management (IoPM), reviewing evidence through the High Street UK 2020 project at the request of the National Association of British Market Authorities (Nabma). Footfall data was supplied by retail data specialists Springboard.

Professor Cathy Parker, Professor of Marketing and Retail Enterprise at MMU, said: “They might be the earliest form of collective retail - predating internet shopping by more than 1,000 years - but markets can still pull in the punters.

“We have been able to demonstrate unequivocally that markets contribute to the economic, social and political health of towns and cities.

Market effect

“Our research also presents the strongest evidence to date of a market effect. The operation of a market significantly increases footfall on each of the homogenous shopping days.

“Allowing markets to dwindle and decline is never a smart move for any town centre.”

Graham Wilson, Chief Executive of Nabma, added: “We’re delighted to welcome this important research which provides strong evidence of the importance of markets.

“We have a high regard for the work undertaken by the IoPM and MMU and this project has provided the opportunity of strengthening the links that already exist.”


The report is available here:

High Street UK 2020 is a major MMU-led research project, majority funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The University partnered with 10 UK towns to analyse change on the high street and to develop action plans. More information can be found here:

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