Markets - 25 'vital and viable' priorities

Research from the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University has identified the Top 25 priorities that can influence high street vitality and viability. This resource introduces the 'Markets' priority - why it matters, and what you can do about it.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 30 September 2021

What are the 25 vital and viable priorities?

Research from the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University has identified the Top 25 priorities that can influence high street vitality and viability.

The framework was created by experts from a range of disciplines and other stakeholders to foster cross-disciplinary knowledge and broadening real-world understanding of the changing nature of the high street.

The 25 priorities are practically orientated and, given their ability to be controlled or influenced at a town level, are fairly internally focussed. For each of the priorities you will find an introduction to evidence that describes the priority, suggests what it covers, discusses how it might be implemented and the level of control associated with it.

Additionally, you will find suggestions of what the priority could mean for implementation during the COVID-19 recovery stage.


Factors included in Markets

Traditional markets; street trading







22nd out of 25

3.62 out of 5



7th out of 25

3.56 out of 4

Potentially controllable

25 Priorities

17th out of 25


Very high priority



Markets in general have existed at the core of UK town and city centres since the Middle Ages and a few certainly date back at least a millennium (Hallsworth et al., 2015). They add to the pleasure of the customer experience and traditional markets are also inherently more likely to sell locally produced goods. Markets have changed and evolved over time as they have come to face new challenges, but they take their place as signifiers for local identity, providing colour and character and focusing on regional wares and specialities.

Why does it matter? (Influence)

Markets matter economically, socially and politically and have a significant impact on footfall. Markets have long been important to the health of town and city centres and can provide towns with a competitive advantage as functioning, attractive markets can be a catalyst for nearby investment by retailers. People of different incomes, ages, genders and cultures can meet together and interact at markets (Tangires, 2003; Watson and Studdert, 2006) and they also provide access to high-quality affordable food and other low-cost goods that may be locally sourced, thus promoting sustainability. Markets can behave as anchors for centres and increase the attractiveness of the place, which in turn can generate more footfall. Hallsworth et al. (2015) showed that high streets with an operating market significantly increased footfall on each of the homogenous shopping days (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) by between 15% to 27%, compared to footfall in locations without markets. Furthermore, markets are places of innovation, experiment and education, where the fluidity of market formats and the small operating costs of stalls encourages traders to take risks and try ideas and products that may not be viable elsewhere (Morales, 2011).

What can you do about it? (Control)

Local markets can act as a catalyst for action or change and should be managed in a way that enables them to reach their full trading potential. Allowing markets to decline is never a smart move for a town centre, as markets act as a visual barometer for the vitality and viability of a location. Markets are also a useful proxy of the state of the relationships between town centre stakeholders. If market traders are not cooperating with each other, or the Local Authority is not cooperating with its market, or fixed retailers are hostile to the market, then it is likely that ALL networks and partnerships in that location are weak and/or dysfunctional, making it impossible to coordinate the type of change that is necessary to stay relevant to a 21st century catchment. Well managed markets are flexible spaces that can adapt well to changing times providing opportunities for many
forms and types of retail. In order to evaluate the impact of a market, it is highly recommended that you monitor footfall.

Markets and COVID-19

Sentiment data from PwC (2020) shows that shopping locally and ethically is becoming more important to people and it is estimated that this trend will continue after lockdown. These prioritisations can therefore strengthen the role of markets in centres and provide an opportunity for low cost, low risk entry into the local economy for new businesses, allowing for the early development of entrepreneurial skills. Additionally, transmission of COVID-19 is less likely outdoors, and this could prove an opportunity for markets to increase in importance as part of the town centre offer. They are flexible and responsive and can be configured according to health and safety guidance.

Places with existing markets should work with them in the pre-recovery planning phase to develop the offer and configuration, to relaunch in time for the recovery. Places without existing markets can introduce licenced trading pitches in appropriate places to bolster the existing offer. Local oversight (e.g. via a BID) ensures that pitches are let and managed according to a brief.

See also

Anchors; Attractiveness; Diversity


Hallsworth, A., Ntounis, N., Parker, C., Quin, S. (2015). Markets Matter: Reviewing the evidence and detecting the market effect, Available at:


Morales, A. (2011). Marketplaces: prospects for social, economic and political development, Journal of Planning Literature 26 (1): 3-17.


PwC. (2020). Consumer Sentiment Survey - May 2020. [Online] [Accessed on 6th July 2020]


Tangires, H. (2003). Public markets and civic culture in nineteenth century America. Baltimore, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press.


Watson, S, Studdert, D. (2006). Markets as sites of social interaction – spaces for diversity Joseph Rowntree Foundation by the Policy Press, Bristol.


Wrigley, N.& Lambiri, D. (2015). British High Streets: from Crisis to Recovery? A Comprehensive Review of the Evidence. Southampton; 2015. Available from: