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How do you solve a problem like Pudsey Market?

Pudsey market dates back to Victorian times and remains a traditional local market and a main feature of life in the town.

It has a loyal customer base and has been bedrock of the community for generations, but recently trade has started to dwindle. ANNA RILEY went along to the market and reports on how the fortunes of the market could be turned around.

Listen to the views of traders and shoppers:

The background

Pudsey market has been at its current site since 1964 and was refurbished in 2007, with £260,000 being spent on new stalls, paving, ramps for disabled access and security cameras, all in an effort to boost the town’s economy.

It is open for business three days a week on a Tuesday, Friday and Saturday from 8.30am to 2.30pm with food, drink, flowers, clothing and more on offer.

Most of the stallholders are locals and their businesses have been passed down through their families for them to continue. However, their livelihoods may be at risk due to a down turn in custom and sales.

How can fortunes if historic Pudsey Market be turned around? Photo Anna Riley

The traders

The general consensus from speaking to the traders was that they will continue to set up their stalls at the market as it is part of their livelihoods. As long as customers keep coming to the market, the traders will also keep coming.

Nevertheless, there was some concern from the sellers that online shopping and the ease and accessibility of supermarket shopping may eventually signal the end to market trade as we know it.

Not all the traders knew what the solution to the issue could be, but some suggested an increase in advertising for the market, more parking nearby and overhead coverage for poor weather conditions may be the answer to increasing customer numbers.

Daniel Lee, owner of Michael’s Quality Fish Stall said:

“It was only about five years ago when people were queuing to get in to the market.

“Now there is hardly anyone here. As long as my customers keep coming though, I’ll keep coming.”

Handbag stallholder Yvonne Robinson. Photo: Anna Riley

Yvonne Robinson, a handbag seller said:

“Most of my customers are more mature ladies. I don’t really see many young people coming to the market or looking at my stand.

“I think most of them probably shop online. I don’t really know what the solution is to get more people to come here, maybe it’s just the way things are going, but overhead coverage for when it rains could improve things.”

However, some traders still had quite a positive outlook on market life.

Jayne Hutton, whose fruit stall has been in the family for 65 years, said:

“I get my regulars and I’m really happy with the success of my business so far.

“I have recently taken over from my mum who has retired and I’m trying to get new clientele, which has been going really well so far.

“I’m up at three in the morning to get to the wholesalers for the fruit and veg that we sell, but I wouldn’t change it.”

The customers

After speaking to customers at the market, a few common issues became apparent.

These were that as the market is outdoors, shoppers can be put off from visiting when there are poor weather conditions, as there is no overhead shelter.

Empty stalls at Pudsey market. Photo: Anna Riley

Another was that a ‘chicken and egg’ situation seems to have occurred with customers saying that they are sometimes put off attending by the lack of traders that turn up on market days.

However, this is most likely a result of the lack of customers that turn up on market days when those traders do attend.

Mary Farrer, a shopper who attends the market on a weekly basis, said:

“I do support the market and have done for years, but it is a shame that there are now not as many stalls to look around.

“If the traders aren’t here to sell their wares, how can we buy them and keep coming every week if they don’t turn up?”

Geoff Jackson, another regular at the market, said he had seen a lot of changes over the years. He added:

“I have been coming here since I was a young lad and used to work on the stalls for a bit of pocket money.

“I only live next door so I will definitely keep coming, but maybe if they made it an indoor market, it could encourage more people to come.”

The landlord

Leeds City Council is responsible for running the market and have reiterated their commitment to making the market a success.

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said in a statement:

“We remain absolutely committed as a council to supporting Pudsey Market and its traders.

“This has included providing discounted rents to traders and a loyalty scheme offering free trading days after 11 consecutive attendances.

“We are always looking at ways in which to improve both the foot fall and general offer at Pudsey Market, and will be continuing to work closely with traders to see how this can be achieved.”

What do you think? If you have any thoughts or suggestions about how the market could be improved, post a comment below.


  1. I bumped into someone from Kirkstall the other day to say I was going to Pudsey Market. My friend, who’s lived in Leeds for 30 years, turned round to me and Sao; “does Pudsey have a market?'”. That’s how well publicised it is. It’s the usual problem with Leeds City Council – it’s been neglected for so long and by the time they realise it’s too late.
    As for the lady wanting a roof to keep out the rain? Join the queue – the traders at Kirkgate Market have been promised a new roof as part of the multi million revamp. Yet more than 12 months in they’ve got a revamped inside but no work in the leaky roof and plastic bags in the roof to catch the rain. Sums it all up really when it comes to Leeds and it’s markets ….

  2. Definitely invest in making the area an all weather attraction. Coffee shops, tea rooms and places to get good fresh or on the go food will definitely entice people and improve the ambience. We need more places in Pudsey town centre to go for a good Saturday brunch or catch up with friends. How about a pop up bar on Saturdays?

  3. We’ve been saying for ages Pudsey Market would really improve if it was made into more of a ‘farmers market’ as they are so popular now. Bit like the one at Kirkstall abbey, that’s always so busy. I really want to keep the market going but there are hardly any stalls and what there are… well I like the greengrocers and flowers but not much else for me there to be honest. I was in the market earlier today, it was a lovely sunny day and it was empty. So sad.

  4. Pudsey market is a little Gem and I for one would be sorry to see it go…I do not have an answer really to its demise, we are surrounded by supermarkets which I believe has an impact especially in poor weather….However take a look at Otley they have a thriving Saturday market, they too are surrounded by shops, what makes them Different? A food market day once a month, a cosy corner to sit with coffee in summer Finally perhaps starting in the schools talking about “their market” together with its history and definitely more advertising, may bring younger persons and increased footfall…..I love it keep it going….

  5. As a new-comer to Pudsey, my initial impression is that the market seems to be tucked away in a hole and is not very inviting. It should be in a more prominent position and should have all-weather protection. This would benefit both traders and customers.

  6. I’d suggest putting up a ‘clear’ sign with trading says AND what stalls will be there. For example, i didn’t know the fish man was still at the market and still don’t know which day.

    Also, set up a twitter account and Facebook page to allow people to find out what’s happening.

    Finally, I’ve seen days where there have been only a couple of stores open, maybe get some of the local shops to take stalls​ until the numbers pick up.

  7. Most of the stalls are selling overpriced low quality products! Have you thought that perhaps the people of Pudsey simply just don’t want to own such tat. The merchandise sold can be purchased at far more reasonable prices at places such as B&M.

  8. The market has never recovered from it’s modernisation. While it was closed down for a long period, several traders went elsewhere and have never returned. Many customers did likewise.
    When it did reopen, fewer traders meant fewer customers and the knock on effect is effect is that newer traders aren’t interested. It does feel like this was a deliberate policy by LCC since a temporary site could have avoided the problem.
    Before i retired i worked in Pudsey and used the market regularly. Unfortunately i won’t qualify for a concessionary pass for several years and catching a bus to the market would add almost £5 to my shopping bill, whereas i have two supermarkets within walking distance

  9. Pudsey is advertised as a market town and I feel every effort should be made to get the stalls filled,get the customers there by advertising and offering more than just shopping,a good market has a buzz about it and people should feel a sense of community.
    Maybe a look at successful small markets in the region would help?
    Financial incentives for stall holders?
    Let common sense prevail for once?


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