2013 State of the Flea Market Industry Report
Flea market traffic continues to build year-over-year in an economy rebounding from a recession, and flea market vendors are shopping carefully for venues dedicated to attracting shoppers, and for suppliers that offer the best prices. These are among the findings of the 2013 State of the Flea Market Industry research, conducted by Sumner Communications, publisher of the Merchandiser Group magazines and FleaMarketZone.com. In February of 2013, Sumner Communications administered two online surveys, one to market managers and another to market vendors.
Overall, the surveys revealed a sense of optimism among managers and vendors alike. Around 53 percent of managers surveyed say shopper traffic this year is about the same as last year, while 29 percent say it has increased. This rise in market activity builds on last year’s growth, as nearly 50 percent of managers surveyed in 2012 said traffic had increased over 2011. Likewise, 41 percent of vendors surveyed say they expect to see an increase in their annual sales revenue over 2012, whereas last year, 41 percent of vendors said revenue was about the same as 2011.
The most effective sales strategies, according to vendors, are:
- Good prices (87.9 percent).
- Personality (63.7 percent).
- Rotating merchandise to keep displays fresh (47.6 percent).
This year’s survey also found that the majority of vendors (58 percent) have smartphones, enabling them to cater to shoppers who want to pay with credit cards by using payment apps.
Choosing a marketplace is also key to success, and nearly 88 percent of vendors surveyed cite good customer traffic as the number one consideration in this regard. Markets are drawing in customers through advertising, and more than 82 percent of managers surveyed say they promote their markets. The top three media used are flyers (71.4 percent), newspaper ads (64.3 percent) and social media posts (50 percent), with social media posts noted as one of the most effective means. More than 70 percent of managers say they have a web presence, such as a website or Facebook page.
Special events are a vital means to attract consumers
Around 59 percent of markets, both this year and last, host special events. The top three are:
- Holiday celebrations, such as those centered around Halloween and Christmas, (70 percent).
- Prize drawings (60 percent).
- Fundraisers, entertainment and car shows (40 percent each).
Low cost space rental remains the number two consideration in choosing a market this year (57.6 percent) as it was last year (63.6 percent). A convenient location is sought by 54.5 percent of vendors this year, as it was by 52.3 percent of vendors last year. Market cleanliness also ranks high among vendors’ desires.
The flea market industry continues to be a promising venture for many businesspersons. Some 58 percent of vendors have been in the industry for at least six years, and 16 percent have run their businesses for 21 or more years. These findings are much the same as the 2012 survey, when around 56 percent of vendors had been in business for a minimum of six years and 15.3 percent had been operating for 21 or more years.
Similarly, of managers surveyed, nearly 90 percent have been in the industry for more than six years with more than 41 percent in the industry for 21 years or more. In addition, around 41 percent of managers operate booths at their markets. This bodes well for vendors, as it gives managers hands on experience, and enables them to relate to vendors on multiple levels.
New merchandise popular among vendors
Once again, the vast majority of flea market vendors are selling new merchandise, 94 percent in 2013 and 95 percent in 2012. The 2013 survey shows jewelry is the number one product category, sold by nearly 50 percent of vendors, followed by gifts/novelties (43.5 percent), collectibles (41.2 percent) and apparel/clothing (38.9 percent). Furthermore, vendors say the top selling merchandise categories at their markets are jewelry, apparel/clothing and antiques/used/vintage merchandise. Managers also name these three categories as the top sellers at their markets.
When choosing wholesale suppliers, product value/price is most important to nearly 70 percent of vendors, followed by product quality (59.3 percent) and low or no minimum order (56.1 percent). These results mirror last year’s survey, when nearly 77 percent of vendors cited product value/price and 64.5 percent named product quality as key factors. Asked why they like their favored suppliers, nearly 73 percent of vendors say they offer the best prices, followed by ease of ordering (50 percent).
Internet usage continues to trend up with 86.2 percent of vendors saying they access wholesaler websites and online catalogs to shop for and purchase merchandise. Nearly 85 percent of vendors say they prefer to respond to ads they see in print by visiting the supplier’s website or sending an email. While only 22.6 percent of vendors have a website, up slightly from 17.9 percent in last year’s survey, about two thirds of vendors have a presence on social media. Of vendors with a social media presence, 100 percent are on Facebook, 28.6 percent are on Twitter and 19 percent are on Linkedin.
Areas of concern for vendors include:
- Finding suppliers of quality merchandise at low cost (82 percent).
- Lack of customers (55 percent).
- Too many vendors selling similar products at their markets (51.5 percent).
Challenges managers face are similar in 2013 to the ones cited in 2012. The leading concern is the economy, followed by the weather, attracting new shoppers, finding qualified new vendors and advertising in a cost effective way.
The 2013 survey also found that nearly 59 percent of respondents are members of PROVENDOR, the professional vendor association. PROVENDOR, launched one year ago, provides several free benefits including flash sales, subscriptions to Merchandiser Group magazines, quarterly newsletters and advisory information on key business topics.
Sumner Communications has been serving the wholesale merchandise industry since 1988. The company prints over two million copies each year of both monthly and annual publications for flea market and swap meet vendors, independent retailers and buyers of wholesale merchandise. It also owns and operates multiple industry websites, which deliver daily business news, insights, and merchandise and product information.