'Hopefully all that will change': Preston market back for first Friday of trading in more than four years

Preston’s outdoor market will welcome customers to its first Friday of trading in more than four years today (May 10).

The move will see the popular attraction restored to all of its traditional days of operation – Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, from 8am until 3pm – after the city’s retail routine was ripped apart at the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. Although the Wednesday and Saturday events were back in business beneath the historic market canopy by June of that year – later followed by the Monday service – a lack of demand from stallholders to resume trading on Fridays meant that it has not previously been viable to reinstate the day into the schedule.

However, the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) understands that 12 traders will once again be plying their wares across around 20 tables – slightly more than the average pre-pandemic number of Friday retailers operating beneath the Victorian-era covering.

A range of books, flowers, plants, clothing and household goods are on sale most days at the outdoor market – with traders specialising in babywear, rugs and accessories also offering their products on Mondays, white goods and antiques added to the mix on Wednesdays and greeting cards and toys amongst the offer on Saturdays.


Pete Burns, who has operated his The Book Stops Here stall at the outdoor market for 33 years, told the LDRS that people’s shopping habits die hard – and so he has never regained his Friday customers.

“Friday trading briefly returned in the run-up to Christmas the last couple of years – and there were people coming to me then who I had lost [as customers], because they would always come up town on Fridays. That was their shopping day and always had been, so despite the fact I was saying to them, ‘I’m here Monday, Wednesday and Saturday’, they shopped on Friday – and a book wasn’t going to change their [routine].

“Hopefully all that will change now – and we’re also looking forward to the completion of the [cinema and leisure complex on the old indoor market] and the regeneration of the whole area. It’s about reconnecting with our loyal customers and strengthening the sense of community that makes Preston Markets so unique,” Pete added.

Mark Whittle, manager of Preston Business Improvement District, told the LDRS that the reintroduction of Friday trading demonstrated that the outdoor market remained a vibrant part of Preston’s retail offering.

“The market continues to be a popular place to visit – bringing back a Friday market clearly shows demand from the public and appetite from the traders. Most, if not all, of the market traders are small, family-run and independent businesses, who will undoubtedly benefit from an additional trading day,” Mark added.

Meanwhile, deputy Preston City Council leader Martyn Rawlinson, said the authority was “thrilled” to bring back a fourth day of outdoor market retailing.

“This has been possible due to the dedication of our fantastic market traders and the continued support of those who choose to shop local and support small independent businesses, all contributing to the growth and prosperity of our city.

“Friday trading on the outdoor market will add to the vibrancy of the area and will complement [the] Animate entertainment complex, which is due to open in early 2025, and the Amounderness House business hub to follow.”

The second-hand market continues to operate beneath the canopy on Tuesdays and Thursdays.