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

Memorandum by the London Borough of Bexley (MARKETS 38)


  This brief submission seeks to draw attention to two issues:

    (a) markets in towns with a "discount" retail offer; and(b) constraints of Royal Market Charters.


      The London Borough of Bexley has a Charter for a market in Erith. The town centre is one that has seen investment over the last 10 years and new retail outlets anchored. A consequence is that the general market has disappeared owing to many stall holders being unable to compete with the prices in the retail outlets such as ironmongery (now provided by a Wilkinson store open seven days a week).

    However, the nature and catchment area of the town, has also meant a more specialist market to differentiate it from the High Street offer has not been possible unless related to occasional and major events coming through the town (eg Tour de France).

      This does suggest that, in some locations, the traditional customer base of general markets is being eroded by the retail offer of multiples. Overall the retail outlets provide a more convenient offer and a question is how the general market can compete or adapt and change. There seems a significant gap between the general and specialist markets. Consequently, where markets can add most vitality, it is often difficult to secure a commercial operator.


      Boroughs (within and outside London) have Royal Charters for Markets which prevent towns within a certain radius having markets on the same day. Historically, the Charters were used to support general markets albeit some would relate to seasonal themes throughout the year.

    However, there seems to be an increasing tendency to use this historical power to prevent specialist markets (eg continental markets) taking place in neighbouring towns. Typically this prevents markets being held on certain days which, when booking a specialist market, means some of the more rewarding trading periods (eg over a weekend) cannot be accommodated thereby creating encouraging the operator to opt for an alternative location able to do so. At a stage when most towns are seeking to improve the vitality of their town centre, this appears to be an unnecessary restraint.

      Consequently, it is suggested that there should be some differentiation given to types of markets and the application of Royal Market Charters reviewed accordingly.

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