Each year, the Merchandiser Group polls our nationwide network of flea market vendors and owners to monitor market trends and the state of our industry. The results are in, and this year’s poll continues to show a healthy and growing industry. Shoppers, especially Millennials and Gen Z, are showing their love and support for smaller businesses now more than ever, and it presents promising growth for the 2019 year.
In It for the Long Haul
One of the beautiful things about flea markets is the vendors come from all different backgrounds and stories as to how they started selling. At any market, you will find vendors who have been in the business almost their entire lives, while others have just started and are still getting their feet wet. Survey results show that 32% of vendors have been in the business for 21 years or more, while 22% responded they have been selling for 6 to 10 years.
Markets and their owners are also a wonderfully diverse group, with 52% of respondents saying their market has been open for over 30 years. 17% reported their market has been open for 21 to 30 years. With the continued support of a strong community surrounding these markets, we’re certain they will be sustained for many years to come.
As flea markets and their vendors continue to grow and thrive, so does their involvement with technology in their business. It seems that every week something new is being rolled out for this area, and vendors are keeping up with it as 82% of respondents say they use a smartphone or tablet for running their business. 64% reported they use both a smartphone and a laptop for their business.
Vendors are also smart when sourcing wholesale suppliers, with 76% conducting their search online. Of those, 68% use WholesaleCentral.com to find reliable suppliers. 76% of market owners report that they also use both a computer and mobile technology to run their business. And, nearly 100% of market owners reported they have and maintain a website or social media page for their market.
As a seller, speaking more than one language, or hiring employees who do so, gives your business an advantage over the rest. The United States is a melting pot of ethnicities, and catering to customers who aren’t proficient in English will make them feel more comfortable. This will help to secure a sale as well as customer loyalty.
According to our vendor survey, 22% of respondents reported they speak more than one language. The top 5 languages spoken are English (90%), Spanish (81%), French (36%), Chinese and Japanese (18%).
Market owners and flea vendors across the board have doubled down on strategies to attract shoppers. 48% of vendors reported they use social media to promote business. The top 3 social media sites to use include Facebook (95%), Instagram (33%) and YouTube (25%).
According to our market owner survey, 82% of respondents said social media posts work best to drive traffic to their market. Email blasts are also a great way to attract shoppers, with 71% actively collecting email addresses to send promotions to consumers.
Room for Growth
Some of the top areas of concern for vendors are finding suppliers of quality merchandise at a low cost (66%), lack of customers (62%) and the weather (54%). 45% also cite the rising costs of space rentals are a worry for them, while 37% report the rising costs of merchandise is bothersome. Overall, it seems that vendors are looking for reasonably priced merchandise from suppliers as well as reasonably priced rental spaces.
According to our vendor survey, 50% reported that they are expecting more retail sales volume in 2019 and 39% said they expect it to stay the same. 35% of market owners responded that the shopper traffic has increased compared to a year ago. If this trend continues, both markets and their vendors will see more profit gain for years to come. Keep up the good work!