Barcelona: Renewing municipal markets through cohabitation strategies



Policy type

Strategic alliance

Sector focus

Municipal markets

Circular principle

Foster diversity and redundancy


Modern commerce is characterised by a wide range of purchasing methods: markets, traditional shops, supermarkets, hypermarkets, outlets, e-commerce.  However, there continues to be a more competitive tension between markets and supermarkets and market traders often feel the competition from supermarkets as the most dangerous threat to their survival. In Barcelona a  ‘cohabitation’ strategy has been developed.



At the end of the 90s when the markets of Barcelona were in poor condition and competition from supermarkets was beginning to spread throughout the city, the city decided to modernise and renew the markets of Barcelona to maintain their strength as drivers of employment, social life and the economic promotion of neighbourhoods.

Since then, the City Council of Barcelona, in agreement with the traders, has invested in modernising and re modelling 24 markets and their commercial practices, through the contribution of public and private funds in which one of the key elements is the ‘cohabitation’ of markets & supermarkets – or shared space.

This combination improves the customer’s shopping experience and turns it into one-stop-shopping. The market becomes a place where citizens can buy the best fresh quality products and also the packaged or cleaning products in the supermarket. Furthermore, as markets are usually located in the central areas of cities or neighbourhoods, supermarkets are inter- ested in being inside. In Barcelona’s case they have paid significant amounts of money to win a license to run a supermarket in a market for a certain period of time – with the winner selected through a public tender. This money is used in Barcelona as a financial contribution to the physical renewal of markets.



City of Barcelona, traders, private supermarkets.



Urbact market handbook 

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