Published: Tuesday, 25 April 2023

Following overwhelmingly positive feedback following a 2022 consultation, Oxford City Council is pleased to announce a year-long trial of extended opening hours at Oxford’s historic Covered Market.

Oxford-based craft brewery and hospitality social enterprise Tap Social will also be opening a new venue at the Covered Market, known as ‘The Market Tap’.

The Market Tap is one of several traders that will take part in The Covered Market’s new extended evening hours on Thursday to Saturday until 11pm. The extended opening hours trial begins on Thursday 4 May - individual trader opening hours will vary.

The Covered Market’s array of traders offer the widest-ever to date selection of specialist artisan produce, cafés, bars, gifts, experiences, fashion and lifestyle products. Traders confirmed to take part in the extended hours trial include:

  • Brothers Café
  • Colombia Coffee
  • Gulp Fiction
  • Market Cellar Door
  • Teardrop Bar
  • The Market Tap
  • The Woolhound
  • Sartorelli's
  • Sofi de France

In July and August 2022, the Council held a consultation on a trial of extended opening hours at Oxford’s Covered Market, which found the majority of respondents, including traders and members of the public, favour later opening hours. At over 700 replies, this was the biggest response to any consultation about the Covered Market.

Key consultation findings:

  • 70% of traders expressed an interest in extending their own hours during any pilot scheme (but would first need to consider staffing issues)
  • 70% of members of the public said they would visit more often if later opening hours also involved more events and opportunities to eat and drink as well as shop
  • Eating in (86%) and having a drink (73%) were cited as the most popular reason to visit
  • Most popular activities suggested by the public were Trader-led events (e.g., tastings, ‘meet the trader’ talks) and music, both at 74% of those surveyed, followed by comedy (52%) and film screenings (47%)

In February this year, Oxford City Council approved an investment of almost £7m to revitalise Oxford’s historic Covered Market.

The £6.87m funding package aims to revitalise Oxford’s historic Covered Market, including entrances in High Street and Market Street transformed, larger seating areas inside, and a new dwell space outside in a new pedestrian-friendly Market Street.

The regeneration will respect the unique character, heritage and history of the Covered Market, which first opened fully in 1774, while securing the long-term future of the Grade II-listed prized Council asset.

Learnings from the implementation of longer opening hours will also feed into the implementation of the Masterplan proposals. The results will help the Council develop plans to support market traders to extend their opening hours and create a unique destination in the city for shopping and socialising in the evening.

Separately, the City Council is already investing £3.1m in the Covered Market. This investment includes £1.8m on on-going work to secure the roof for another 60 to 80 years, and £1.3m for internal refurbishment and decorations.

“Nationally, shopping is changing and people also want experiences when they take the decision to put down the laptop and shop in person. Markets across the country have successfully trialled later opening and it’s made them stand-out destinations.

“We continue to work with traders and other stakeholders in order to update the historic Covered Market for the 21st Century. I would encourage Oxford residents and visitors to plan a night out at the Market and rediscover the delights that our wonderful market has to offer.”

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council

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