Grainger market: a community asset at the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne (case study)

This case study on Grainger market (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) is drawn from the Markets4People research project, which sought to assess the economic, social, and cultural benefits of traditional retail markets. Based on a survey with 500 market users, focus groups, and interviews, it showcases how Grainger market is a welcoming and supportive community asset providing affordable and quality fresh food. The case study covers key benefits of the market, challenges faced, and future recommendations.

Date added 29 June 2021
Last updated 29 June 2021

*This resource is about markets. It is not specifically about the High Street, but has been included in response to requests for more studies/information about this topic, as well as linking to the markets, experience, and merchandise priorities for High Street vitality and viability*

This case study on Grainger market (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) is drawn from the Markets4People research project, which sought to assess the economic, social, and cultural benefits of traditional markets. Based on a survey with 500 market users, two focus groups with market users, and 10 interviews with key local actors, the case study covers market facts, key benefits, challenges faced, and future recommendations, as summarised below.

Key benefits of the market

  • The market serves its local community well, and is particularly well-used by older women and those from less affluent groups, but also attracts younger people.
  • There is an important intergenerational aspect of the market, where older users introduce younger family members to the market.
  • The market has a very loyal and regular customer base, with 63% of people using the market for over 20-years.
  • It is seen by users as a shopping destination of choice for affordable and high quality produce, including an expanding hot food and street food offer.
  • The market helps to drive footfall and spend to the wider city centre.
  • The market offers a convivial space for intergenerational and intercultural socialisation, benefitting the wellbeing of the local community, and fostering social interactions with both strangers and longer-term relationships.

Challenges faced

  • Like other markets, Grainger market is facing external challenges further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as changing consumption patterns, an ageing population, and Council funding cuts.
  • Internally, there are concerns around changes to the market to attract a younger and more affluent user (e.g. extension of hot and street food stalls) potentially leading to a loss of its traditional character and marginalising existing consumer groups.
  • There is a narrow income-focused approach, rather than also recognising the important social and cultural benefits the market brings.
  • There are some tensions between the Council and market traders.

 Future recommendations

  • There needs to be an understanding of the market as a community asset bringing social and cultural benefits, rather than just a commercial property asset generating economic outcomes.
  • Existing user groups need to be fully integrated into any future plans for the market, as they are important to its current and future success.
  • Identify the impacts of any changes to the market on a diverse range of customer groups, and minimise any negative impacts to existing or vulnerable users.
  • To improve networks and partnership working, a Market Forum could be created, bringing together key market stakeholders such as officers, councillors, traders, and community groups.
  • Put the market at the heart of any Covid-19 recovery plans for the city and high street.

For more resources from the Markets4People project, please see the following:

Case study on Bury Market [link to resource]

Case study on Queen's Market [link to resource]

Market users survey template [link to resource]