Traditional Markets under threat: why it’s happening and what traders and customers can do

Traditional markets in the UK find themselves at a crossroads; on one hand pushed out by changing retail trends and urban redevelopment, on the other championed as desirable, vibrant spaces which are the key to reviving town centres. Regeneration plans threaten what many traders and customers see as a unique and necessary public space in the heart of our towns and cities.

This report has two aims; firstly, to critically examine the changing fortunes of the traditional market, with an emphasis on wider urban regeneration and gentrification strategies, and secondly to explore ways in which customers and traders can successfully maintain markets as places which serve particular and often marginalised groups of people, and in which the social value of these spaces is maintained.
The report is aimed at campaigners or potential campaigners, people with a general or academic interest in regeneration, retail and urban development, and policy-makers (especially at a local level). It draws on campaign work and the analysis of campaign groups such as ‘Friends of’ market groups in Birmingham, Leeds, Peterborough and Queen’s Market (East London), as well as trader groups like Shepherd’s Bush Market Traders Association and grassroots housing activists like Tower Hamlets Renters.

The two sections of the report can be read separately or together.

The report was produced in collaboration with groups who campaign on markets. The research that underpins this report was carried out in 2014-2015 and was funded by a scholar-activist award from the Antipode Foundation based in the School of Geography, University of Leeds.

Dr Sara Gonzalez is a Lecturer in Critical Human Geography at the University of Leeds, with a long-standing interest in markets and the neoliberal city. She helped set up Friends of Leeds Kirkgate Market.  Gloria Dawson is an independent researcher, writer and activist who has been involved in various campaigns around the right to the city. She has an MA in Social and Cultural Geography and has also worked as a community organiser.

The report can be found  and downloaded at