Traditional Markets Under Threat: Why It’s Happening and What Traders and Customers Can Do

We recently launched the 2015/16 call for applications for the Antipode Foundation’s Scholar-Activist Project Awards (see here). The Awards are grants of up to GB£10,000.00 intended to support collaborations between academics, non-academics and activists (from NGOs, think tanks, social movements, or community grassroots organisations, among other places). They’re aimed at scholars seeking to relate to civil society and make mutually beneficial connections through programmes of action-research, participation and engagement, cooperation and co-enquiry, and more publicly-focused forms of geographical investigation. The Foundation strives to fund work that leads to the exchange of ideas across and beyond the borders of the academy, and builds meaningful relationships and productive partnerships–and we’ve supported some superb work over the years (see here, here and here).

Two of our award recipients–Sara Gonzalez and Gloria Dawson at the University of Leeds–recently got in touch about the publication of a report about their project, Traditional Markets Under Threat: Why It’s Happening and What Traders and Customers Can Do:

Traditional markets in the UK find themselves at a crossroads; on one hand pushed out by changing retail trends and urban redevelopment, on the other championed as desirable, vibrant spaces which are the key to reviving town centres. Regeneration plans threaten what many traders and customers see as a unique and necessary public space in the heart of our towns and cities.

This report has two aims:

1) To critically examine the changing fortunes of the traditional market, with an emphasis on wider urban regeneration and gentrification strategies; and

2) To explore ways in which customers and traders can successfully maintain markets as places which serve particular and often marginalised groups of people, and in which the social value of these spaces is maintained.

The report is aimed at campaigners or potential campaigners, people with a general or academic interest in regeneration, retail and urban development, and policy-makers (especially at a local level). It draws on campaign work and the analysis of groups such as ‘Friends of’ market groups in Birmingham, Leeds, Peterborough and Queen’s Market (East London), as well as trader groups like Shepherd’s Bush Market Traders Association and grassroots housing activists like Tower Hamlets Renters.

For more on markets, see Sara’s 2013 Antipode paper (with Paul Waley), ‘Traditional Retail Markets: The New Gentrification Frontier?’.