Guidance for Market Traders

It is important when engaging traders that clear parameters are set in advance of starting on the market.


Rules and regulations, charges and booking procedures can vary greatly from market to market. Communicating your procedures on your website, Facebook page or whatever online presence you choose will be an advantage and reduce time spent dealing with enquiries.  We have put together some great Trader Applications forms that also include information about Risk Assessments that traders are required to put together.   These will give a clearer indication of what to expect from traders and what you must also do to ensure that you are attracting quality traders who meet all legislative requirements.


At a minimum you will need to consider the following:


Letting arrangements


Letting arrangements with your traders may be subject to the license you get from your local authority. In some areas, market operators go through an application process with their traders, some more rigorous than others, after which the trader is given permission, either in writing or verbally, or signs a contract to trade on that market. It may be you will need to issue licences to market traders either on a permanent or temporary basis and more information can be found on the government website at




As a market operator, you will be required to have an insurance policy that covers you for all eventualities and as a legal requirement, your market traders will need to have the same level of cover as you in Public Liability Insurance. This may also cover Product and Employers Liability Insurance but the level of cover will need to be talked through with an insurance provider and cover obtained prior to trading on a market. Some markets do however have start-up packages for new businesses, whereby their insurance can cover someone test trading for a set number of markets. If one of the aims for your market is to encourage entrepreneurship, it may be worth considering this option within your own Public Liability Insurance package.


Booking procedures


Dependant on how your community market is structured, traders booking a pitch, varies widely. They will need to adhere to the procedure you set in place whether you communicate via email or have a permanent market office with staff on site at set hours. You will need to have details of all legislative requirements prior to trading so it would be an advantage if bookings were made in advance if you lack the necessary manpower to deal with paperwork on the day.


Payment of Charges


Are you sufficiently set up to take cash on the day? Can you afford to take cheques? Is your operation going to be able to accept credit or debit card payments? Can traders pay for their pitch via Paypal online when booking? These are all things that will be to be decided in advance, with a list of pros and cons associated with each system weighing. Many banks now charge to take cash and cheques can be stopped and do not come with a guarantee card anymore. Accepting money will always be a major consideration and you could always trial a number of methods if you decide to run a pilot, deciding at the end of the pilot period what works best for your community market.


Scale of Charges


Ways in which you levy your charges can greatly affect your cash flow and you may wish to consider offering incentives for traders paying in advance and regular set intervals to cut down on administration. The majority of market operators set rates based on the size of pitch taken but just as likely will be additional charges levied against hot food traders. Some markets, when run for the interest of the community set stall rates based on a percentage of takings, but you will need to have a robust system in place to ensure it is the trader’s best interest to divulge takings. 


Hours of Trading


If your market runs from nine to five, the set up and take down time of your traders can be anything from three hours to ten minutes. Your license however will specify when commercial activity can commence and cease and you will need to ensure that traders are compliant with these times.




Advice on noise can range from anything to setting up a stall in the morning, in a residential area to the use of radios during trading hours. What restrictions you decide to set in this regard, if any will be dependant on location and geographical context.


Market Stalls, Fitments & Fittings


Should you choose, or be unable to afford the set up costs of purchasing your own market stall equipment, then you may wish to set clear parameters for traders with regard to their market stalls. At a minimum they should be in good order and comply with Health and Safety requirements and be able to stand up to adverse weather conditions, unless there is a procedure in place to cancel markets in this instance.


Prohibited Goods


The sale of prohibited goods on a market can reflect very negatively on your offer. There are the obvious illegal goods, such as counterfeit products, or those not certified within EU states, but they can also mean goods that do not adhere to your markets guiding principles. For example on a farmers’ market it is forbidden to sell items that you have not grown, reared or otherwise produced yourself, while another market may take the view that traders are only allowed to sell items that are local, social or ethical – allowing for non-local but fairly traded items.


Food Hygiene


All food traders coming onto your community market will need to have a Food Hygiene Certificate and are also subject to other legislative requirements such as food labelling, procedures around allergies and dependant on the size of the business an inspection by an Environmental Health Officer who will supply them with a Food Hygiene Rating certificate.


Conduct of Business


In the event of unsociable or threatening behaviour towards staff, volunteers, members of the public or other traders it will be difficult to remove antisocial traders, should a Code of Conduct not be in place.




Depending on your geographical location you will need to consider whether allowing generators onto your market is beneficial to the offer. If you do allow these items on, then restrictions will need to be put in place on noise levels, fuel storage and all equipment over a year old will be subject to PAT (Portable Appliance Testing), as with any other electrical items if the market location is fortunate enough to have a supply of three-phase power.




Any market operator’s license will be subject to the safe storage and removal of waste. Whether your market takes responsibility for this, which may incur additional charges or it is the responsibility of the traders, will need to be clearly stated.


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