Markets in the UK – National Survey reveals Major Challenges for the Markets’ Sector

The National Association of British Markets (NABMA) has published the findings of its latest, comprehensive National Survey of UK markets. It has revealed that the industry faces major challenges in the years ahead.

Whilst the overall number of markets (including outdoor street and indoor markets) has remained approximately the same (since these surveys began 15 years ago), the survey reveals some worrying trends.

Whilst some markets continue to operate successfully, stall occupancy (the percentage of stalls rented out to traders) has fallen from an average of 77% in 2018 to 72% in 2022. This needs to be viewed in context, as many markets have also reduced their overall capacity over this period too, demonstrating there has been a substantial reduction in the number of traders on markets.

In 2009, it was estimated that the number of market traders stood at around 46,000. By 2018, this number had dropped to approximately 32,000. The 2022 occupancy figures suggest a further reduction, which may be as low as 17,000 traders.

The survey has also revealed that only 8% of traders are aged under 40, which would suggest that markets may have a problem in terms of occupancy in the coming years, as older & more experienced traders retire from the trade.

Most markets are still operated by Local Authorities, with 84% of markets being run by councils, with a major element of these being Town & Parish Councils.

Fewer markets are operating with a Financial Surplus

Of great concern to many operators is the financial sustainability of their operations with only 40% of markets reporting a financial surplus, a significant decline since 2018.

Whilst markets are still recovering from the impacts of the COVID pandemic, this reduction in “profitable” market operations is a trend of great concern to NABMA, particularly with the substantial pressures on Local Authority finances and priorities.

Call for Government Support

David Preston, Chief Executive of NABMA, said:
“Markets are recognised as a major force for High Street Regeneration, but our survey reveals the need to address the real challenges faced by markets across the country.
“Many markets saw a resurgence of support during the pandemic, as the importance of local produce and community spirit, demonstrated the true value of markets to our villages, towns and cities, but our survey indicates some difficult times ahead.
“We need to address the challenges highlighted in the 2022 Survey and NABMA is looking to the Government to support its work and hopes to bring forward a more detailed plan for markets in early 2023.”

Download the full survey findings here

The Real Deal

Pair who work to keep our markets safe and fake-free win a Trading Standards Hero Award

Two key members of the National Markets Group for IP Protection – Gavin Terry and Patrician Lennon – have won recognition at Chartered Trading Standards Institute’s (CTSI) annual Hero Awards ceremony for their work with market operators. 

The pair – Gavin is CTSI Lead Officer for Intellectual Property and Vice Chair of the NMG and Patricia has been campaign manager for the National Markets Group’s Real Deal Charter since 2008 – were awarded the CTSI Hero Award for Intellectual Property (IP).

The awards, hosted by CTSI at the House of Lords on the evening of Wednesday 23 November, recognised significant contributions to consumer protection across the UK.

Gavin and Patricia have been working together since 2016 to deliver Intellectual Property-related training to market managers and operators as part of the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) professional qualification, raising awareness of counterfeiting and piracy and highlighting the risks to operators from regulatory non-compliance.

Since 2018, they have worked with National Trading Standards eCrime Team (NTSeCT) to translate the Real Deal Charter to be compatible with online platforms, such as Facebook. Their Real Deal online toolkit is used by over 100 Trading Standards authorities to police the internet whilst advising consumers and online administrators how to stay IP legal.

Recently the pair have coordinated on-line training sessions for Trading Standards authorities using the Real Deal Online toolkit, to increase the knowledge and ability of officers to protect consumers and legitimate business.

Gavin said: “Patricia and I greatly appreciate that the ground-breaking work of The National Markets Group and the Real Deal Campaigns has been recognised in this way. Both the NMG and the Real Deal have been with us for over 10 years and their success is firmly based upon partnership working and industry funding – without this valuable support none of the success of the NMG and the Real Deal would be possible.” 

CTSI Chief Executive John Herriman said: “IP crime is not victimless and impacts on legitimate business and local investment. Gavin and Patricia are working together to tackle this problem head-on and deliver real and positive impacts, to protect legitimate businesses and make markets safer for consumers. It is precisely this kind of effective collaborative working that brings results, that leads to better protection for consumers.

“Gavin and Patricia’s knowledge and delivery of training has proven fundamental in creating a sea change amongst market operators to ensure that IP infringing goods are not sold at their markets.

“The CTSI Hero Awards are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate remarkable individuals or groups of people who make outstanding contributions towards safeguarding vulnerable consumers in our communities. Every year, we are inspired by the stories of nominees throughout the country whose bravery, altruism and hard work often goes unnoticed. These awards honour those remarkable people who have gone the extra mile for consumers.”


Major boost for North East tourism, and Markets

North East England will pilot a new £2.25 million scheme to restructure tourism boards.  DCMS have announced  that Newcastle Gateshead Initiative in the North East has been selected to lead the Destination Development Partnership (DDP) pilot in partnership with Visit Northumberland and Visit County Durham working across seven local authority areas.

DCMS say that the DDP will receive multi-year funding totalling £2.25 million across three years “to promote more strategic, consumer focused development of the visitor economy”.

Of particular interest are the two key aims that are

  • to create a one-stop shop to show off the best of region, attract investment and boost local economy
  • to help attract more visitors through new initiatives and target major national and international events and markets

The full announcement and more details are in the DCMS press release.

David Preston (BA Hons)
Chief Executive
The National Association of British Market Authorities

NABMA Conference Oct 2022 Award Winners-14

The Krys Zasada Award 2022 – NABMA’s Highest Award

This is the highest award that NABMA makes each year and is in the gift of the Presidency. We are grateful to Manchester City Council for their ongoing support and endorsement of this award.

Krys Zasada sadly died at the young age of just 59 back in 2014. At the time he was the NABMA Policy and Development Officer. He had been a long time Director of Markets at Manchester and then a consultant working extensively with wholesale markets.

Without doubt Krys Zasada was a visionary and one of the best ambassadors that our industry has ever had. He had a passion for markets, he was a man of vision and demonstrated the highest of professional standards with a gentle humour and great integrity.

Since 2014 this important award has been presented to politicians, civil servants and long serving market managers.

The Award in his memory, this year, is given to a person who has spent a career in the markets industry and who is recognised by his peers for sharing and holding the same values and professional standards.

Chris Cotton

The recipient, Chris Cotton has just retired from one of the top market positions in the country. His family is steeped in the industry with his parents and uncle all connected to markets and market trading.

The award is presented to a man, originally from a Yorkshire mining family, who joined markets as a manual worker, took educational courses and gradually transitioned to management roles across many metropolitan district markets.

Our recipient is widely respected throughout the industry and has been part of the development and successes of Dewsbury, Huddersfield and Wakefield Markets.

He is generous with his time to help others and has been a loyal and respected member of NABMA. Our award winner has seen the best of times for markets and managed in the most difficult of times. He has developed new indoor and outdoor markets and events and has always recognised, in his words “that whilst markets will change and evolve, they will always be key attractions if councillors and officers recognise, respect and support markets as the vital community pillars that they are”.

Our recipient of this highest award is a true friend of markets across the UK and we recognise and celebrate his wonderful legacy of respect within the markets industry and  NABMA, and his long list of proud career achievements.

Thank you Chris!