Last month, I talked about the need for many of our local markets to embrace new ideas in order for them to survive and thrive in the future. I decided to then take these ideas and share them with the audience of delegates, ranging from council officers, town planners and market managers, at the Future High Street Summit in Nottingham.

I started my presentation with a short history of markets in the UK, outlining how they were a central part of our society for hundreds of years. Things changed in the 1960s, when the development of many of our town’s large shopping centres shifted the focus away from our local markets. This was then compounded by the opening of out-of-town shopping centres, discount stores and, most recently, the huge surge in online shopping. The question I then put the audience is: where do are local markets go from here? Well the major advantage we have over our competitors is our emphasis on social interaction over self-service.

food market 2There are a couple of great examples of markets utilising this to their advantage and it’s no surprise that food and drink is central to their offer. Market House in Altrincham, Model Market in Lewisham and Markethal in Rotterdam are all all buzzing with people, as the prospect of sampling high-quality food and drink in a social environment is driving thousands of people to the markets on a regular basis. The craze has even spread from Europe to America, with spaces in New York, Chicago and Denver all delivering a contemporary market offer, grounded by food and drink, in new and innovative ways.
food hall 1

During my talk, there was another point which had a lot of people raising their eyebrows. It was a statistic I shared from the Mission for Markets survey recently conducted by NABMA and NMTF. The research had found that over 70% of traders on retail markets are now over 50 years old. This made everyone in the room pause for a second as they considered the implications that such a rising age profile would have to the industry as a whole. It also helped to re-emphasise the importance of bringing new blood into the markets sector. I would argue that running a Teenage Market is a great way to start and I just want to take this opportunity to quickly thank Steve from Bolton Markets, Wendy from Berwick Town Council and Vernon from Youth Bank International who are all doing a great job of getting their first events up and running. They are just some of pioneers that are working hard to support local young people and identify the market traders of the future.

Joe Barratt, co-founder of The Teenage Market. Joe Barratt Co-Founder, The Teenage Market

If you would like to contact Joe about setting up a Teenage Market in your town or city please email him at