Bury market: Shopping destination and community hub (case study)

This case study on Bury market (Greater Manchester) 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 Bury market is a welcoming community hub for local residents, providing affordable and high quality food and other items. 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 Bury market (Greater Manchester) 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 is used as a place for shopping, eating, and leisure.
  • A highly valued shopping destination for local residents, especially female, older, people living alone, and lower-income visitor groups, who appreciate the quality and affordable produce.
  • The market is of great value and importance for the local community, who tend to be active, regular, longstanding and loyal users of the market.
  • It is experienced as a welcoming social space and community hub, due to fostering social interactions between strangers, as well as longer-term relationships.
  • Yet, the market is not well-used by a diverse range of ethnic groups in the local and wider community, which is something to consider.
  • The market is key to the unique identity of Bury, and helps to draw footfall and spending into Bury town centre.
  • The general growth in online shopping does not seem to hinder the market, with users tending to do a low amount of their food shopping online (10% of users).

Challenges faced

  • Like other markets, Bury market is facing the external challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has further accelerated the challenges high streets were already facing, with some stalls closed at points during the crisis and having to adapt.
  • There are wider issues around funding and budget cuts to markets.
  • There is an ageing population of market traders to be considered.
  • The current strengths of the market can be undervalued within wider plans for the town.
  • There is a lack of financial investment in maintaining and upgrading the market environment and infrastructure (e.g. signage), and improving accessibility.
  • The market can be ‘swept up in a discourse of change’ focused on attracting a wider customer base (e.g. younger and affluent), which could lead to changes alienating the existing loyal users of the market.

Future recommendations

  • Celebrate the current customer base by including them in any future plans for the market.
  • Identify the impact of any suggested changes to the market on different user groups.
  • Increase the portion of the surplus reinvested in the market to fund incremental improvements to market infrastructure.
  • Stabilise the market’s management and organisational structure.
  • Further support Bury Market traders and the traders’ association.
  • Put the market at the heart of Bury’s Covid-19 recovery strategies.

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

Case study on Grainger Market [link to resource]

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

Market users survey template [link to resource]