Industry sector: Retail and wholesale

Market stall: What to sell

A number of factors will influence the product lines your market stall will sell, such as:

  • your own preferences or expertise (for example you might be a trained butcher or florist)
  • the number of other stalls selling similar products in your chosen market
  • the size and type of stall you will have. For example a lockable stall in a permanent, covered market will allow you to store quite a lot of goods, including perishable items. If you plan to operate as a casual from a series of one day markets, it is likely that your stock will need to be easy to handle and not too prone to deterioration
  • the profit margins you hope to achieve. Will you stock higher margin lines such as costume jewellery, gifts or cards, or lower margin lines such as groceries
  • your target customers. Your product lines may be different if you are planning to sell to wholesale rather than retail customers (for example, sides of meat instead of joints and other cuts). You might decide to target ethically minded consumers by offering a range of Fairtrade products

You might decide to adopt a general trader approach, dealing in a range of different items depending on what comes your way. This could apply to both secondhand and new goods.

Market traders say that the best lines in future will include:

  • cafes and take-away/hot food
  • handmade goods
  • mobile phones and accessories
  • fruit and vegetables
  • baked goods
  • chilled/deli food

On the other hand, they think that sales of the following lines are likely to do less well:

  • fashionwear
  • footwear
  • electrical goods
  • lingerie, nightwear and hosiery
  • books, magazines and stationery
  • leather goods
  • toys and games


Some permanent, covered markets are busy all year round, with most demand occurring on Fridays and Saturdays. Outdoor markets may suffer from low attendances if the weather is very poor. During the winter months you might have fewer customers if you operate from an outdoor pitch and also you might lose stock because it is damaged by wind or heavy rain.

On the other hand, good summer weather is likely to increase the number of people shopping in the market, particularly if you are located in a holiday area.

If you think that demand for your products will be higher at some periods than at others (for example at Christmas time) don't forget to amend your cash flow forecast to reflect higher sales income and also higher stock costs in those months.