• The following data comes from the Mission for Markets survey, collected by NABMA and the NMTF from April to June 2015 and published at the NABMA conference in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, on 21 September 2015. Click here to read the publication.

  • There are 1225 retail markets in the UK. 65% of retail markets are run by local authorities and 18% are operated by private companies. The remainder comprise retail markets managed by trader cooperatives, social enterprises and community interest companies.

  • Since 2009, the amount of businesses working on the nation’s markets has shrunk by a third from 45,700 to 33,000 market traders. Due to the difficult trading conditions within the downturn, a generation of businesses has ceased trading.

  • Since 2009, employment within the sector has shrunk by over 40%. Market traders provide formal employment to 27,500 people, including 1,000 apprentices. The downturn has caused businesses to tighten their belts. It is unknown if jobs have been replaced informally.

  • In financial year 2014-2015, traders on retail markets in the UK turned over £2.5 billion. This is a loss of £1 billion from 2009. Combined with the turnover of the 26 wholesale markets in the UK, the annual turnover of markets was £5.75 billion, a loss of nearly £2 billion from 2009.

  • The sector turned a corner in 2012. Collective turnover has increased by £200 million year on year. NABMA and the NMTF forecast that retail markets will turn over £4 billion by 2020. Operators continue to invest in markets, with £36.6 million invested in 2014/2015.

  • It is estimated that there are 30 billion shopping visits to retail markets in the UK per year. However, operators of markets are reporting a decrease in footfall since 2012. As traders are reporting a slight increase in turnover, this suggests a return of consumer confidence.

  • Traders on retail markets have a mature age profile with over 70% having 50 years of age. There is hardly a gender gap within the sector; 46% of businesses are run by women. Ethnic backgrounds reflect national averages as does the geographical spread of businesses across the UK.

  • 66% of businesses trade on outdoor markets. Over half of market traders have a circuit of weekly markets that are open one, two or three days a week. The NMTF reports that 20% of its membership trade solely on festivals, fairs and shows.

  • 75% of market traders are confident in the longevity of their business. This is because of noticeable increase in demand for their products, a belief in the quality of their goods and their ability to adapt to local trends. They expect to spend significantly more on stock, premises and pitch fees and travel in 2015/2016.


  • The two largest industry trade organisations, the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) and the National Market Traders Federation (NMTF), launched the Mission for Markets campaign in 2014 to address the decline in retail markets.

  • The campaign has performed a health check on markets, including both the operators of markets and the independent businesses that trade on them, and is reporting severe decline within the sector since 2009. Click here to view the results of the 2015 survey.

  • A publication was launched on 21 September 2015 outlining six big issues the sector needs to work together to address: recruiting and supporting the next generation of market trader; developing the skills of traders and operators; structural change to local authorities; local, national and European legislation; and integration within the high street agenda.

  • This website will continue to be updated with resources and case studies for market operators and traders with aim of enhancing markets by sharing best practice and highlighting opportunities for personal and organisational development.

  • NABMA and the NMTF are consulting with their members to develop a programme of interventions based on the issues discussed and the recommendations forwarded in the publication. Members are encouraged to contact their respective trade organisation.


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