Introduce markets to save weak shopping centres

Injecting the excitement of a traditional market into a shopping centre environment could be the saviour of up to 300 poorly performing developments scattered around the UK.

Old Spitalfields Market in full flow
This is the view of Malcolm Ball, chief executive of Wellington Markets, which runs 16 markets around the UK including the flagship Old Spitalfields Market in London.

With voids of up to 50% in some of these shopping centres (despite them being less 15 years old) he reckons it is worth a “roll of the dice to re-invent these sites”.

Through the company’s Activate Assets subsidiary the plan is to introduce the excitement, individualism and entertainment of markets into these tired shopping centres and attempt to get them back on their feet.

In September two or three sites will sign up to the initiative that will see them adopt the same elements that have been so successful at Old Spitalfields. This centres around operating a market in the central communal space.

But rather than have the same stalls every day the aim has been to attract different shoppers on specific days so Ball introduced themed market days (including Edgy fashion, antiques, and food-led) and on other buy klonopin online days there will be a rolling mixture of traders.

To bring these traders up to the standards required, Wellington Markets has helped train them in presentation, ensuring they have sufficient stock on their stalls, stipulating they accept chip and PIN, and convincing them to open later in the morning in order that they trade later in the day to catch the post-work crowd.

This has combined to drive up footfall at Spitalfields from 40,000 customers per week when Wellington took over in 2009 to a current 70,000 per week. The spend per head has also increased.

By having the energy of a vibrant market attract an increased level of footfall into the UK’s desperate shopping centres Ball reckons there is the potential for a rejuvenation of these locations.

Popular market traders could potentially progress to taking on a fixed unit or operating a pop-up in the vacant units, and the increased numbers of shoppers the market brings would undoubtedly breathe new life into the existing tenants of the centre.

It is a gamble but for the many distressed shopping centres around the country it is one that is potentially worth taking. What is there to lose?