“It’s not like it use to be.” Declared a trader on the Shambles Market in York. And he’s right. The retail landscape is changing, and none more so than on traditional markets. We all know there has been a huge shift in power on the high street. But the ripple of change started on traditional markets up and down the country.
Gone are the days, for most, when everyone would visit their local market for everything – from clothes to fresh food. Nowadays the savvy consumer, fed by the equally savvy retailer go to high street stores and supermarkets and bypassing the market place altogether in search of bargains. The only demographic that still heads to a traditional market nowadays is the ageing consumer, whose days, and let’s be brutally direct, are naturally numbered.
The successful retail brands have the insight that enables them to reach the consumer through targeted brand and product messaging. They know what the consumer wants, when they want it and where they want it. And for the most part they get it right.
This understanding has led to new retail giants being born and dominating the hight street as though they have always been there. Some even started on the markets, but they, unlike the trader quoted earlier understood the retail landscape was changing, and they knew how to appeal to the new environment, and how to capitalise on it. They also knew the traditional market place was dying due to a refusal by traditional traders and market managers to accept change and keep up with trends.
So, where does this leave traditional markets? And how can they survive and still engage with the consumer?
Traditionally markets are built on traders selling traditional products like fruit an veg, as well as cut price clothes, pet supplies and consumables. But as the consumer gets more brand aware they know the high street giants are willing to not only get into price wars, but they’re also willing to start them by having logistical strength, flexible pricing and marketing prowess.
Consumers understand this and are willing to capitalise on it. Bagging bargains and cut-price deals to help support their household budgets. And their appetite for deals and bargains covers the whole retail spectrum, from food to fashion and interiors.
Some savvy market managers, the ones with longterm vision are those who understand the concerns, and the ethos of public sector trading, and the needs of the consumer – they understand the changing environments, they realise the consumer wants value and they know the consumer is attracted to businesses, and to brands that are both ethical, consumer-focused and, who are different.
This understanding has led many markets to look at their current traders in terms of product offering and customer interaction, which in turn is starting a silent retail revolution; a revolution that is literally changing the landscape of traditional markets so they can thrive alongside high street stores.
Nowadays the markets which are surviving are the ones where visitors will find value and choice – ranging from artisan food to fashion and gifts. People want provenience.
Market managers who know how to survive have learnt to understand that their markets must compete, both In terms of price, product offering and choice.