Market Failure?: Can the traditional market survive? - Communities and Local Government Committee Contents

Memorandum by Action for Market Towns (AMT) (MARKETS 12)

  Action for Market Towns is a membership organisation open to market towns with a population of between 3,000 and 30,000, as well as individuals and organisations who wish to promote the viability and vitality of market towns. Currently, we have 420 members, largely market town partnerships or market town councils, bit also including county, district and unitary authorities.

  In December 2008, we surveyed our members on the issues on which the Select Committee is focussing in its inquiry into traditional retail markets. 108 member towns responded. I attach the analysis of the survey, which I hope the Select Committee will find of interest. I should be happy to give oral evidence if the Committee wishes.

  In response to some, but not all, of the questions which the Committee is examining, the survey provides the following summary information:


1.  How has the picture changed over the last 10 years?

  36% of the towns with markets reported that number of stalls at their towns market had decreased over the last five years. When asked why they felt this was the case, a number of respondents commented that the number of market stalls in their town had decreased due to "increased competition," whilst another theme was the "lack of actual traders."

  61% reported that their market had not been affected by Retail Developments within their town.

  61% reported that their market had not been affected by Out of Town Retail Developments.

  (Pages 14-18 of the survey refer)

2.  Are the number and types of markets in decline? If so, why?

  From those surveyed who indicated that their town did not have a market, 50% reported that a market was previously held. From this cohort 43% indicated that the market had closed in the last five years, 29% 21 to 50 years ago, 14% five to 10 years ago and 14% 50 more years ago. (Page 7 refers)

  44% of respondents were confident in terms of the future of the market in their town. (Page 20 refers)

3.  Are there obstacles hindering the successful business of existing market operators and traders?

  60% of towns with markets felt that there were obstacles hindering the successful operations of their existing market traders, and when asked to expand on these obstacles two main themes emerged; "Location" and "Local Authorities".

  32% of those respondents with markets in their towns rated the local government support given as Neither Effective nor Ineffective. When Respondents were asked what additional support local or central government could give to markets, and the main theme to emerge revolved around "financial support/incentives" (Pages 21-22 refer)

4.  What has been the impact of specialist markets eg continental and farmers markets, and do such markets integrate successfully with older markets?

  From the cohort that indicated their town held "New" markets such as Farmers, Continental and Arts and Crafts, 54% stated that these had been successfully integrated with the older markets.

  Responses from the 41% who did not feel that the new markets had successfully been integrated centred on the lack of a previous market to integrate with and "New" and "Old" markets being operated in different locations. (pages 12-13 refer)


5.  Does local government support markets effectively?

  Pages 21-22 of the survey deal with local government issues relating to towns with markets. These include liaison between different tiers of local government, lack of investment, lack of support and vision and inadequate promotion.

6.  Does central government support markets effectively? If not, what additional support should be provided?

  Page 23 deals with this issue. Comments exclusively relate to the role of local government rather than central government.


  7.  69% of towns with markets reported that their market had not been affected over the last five years by new regulations. However, of those who reported that new regulations had affected the market within their town, 56% said that the effect had been a negative one. This is an area where AMT wishes to investigate the survey responses in more depth. (Page 20 refers)

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