As the slow-moving U.S. economy continues to plague Americans with employment and business challenges, the majority of flea market managers report strong traffic at their markets, according to the 2012 State of the Flea Market Industry research conducted by Sumner Communications. Sumner Communications administered two online surveys—one to market managers and another to market vendors—in July 2012.
“Nearly 49 percent of managers say shopper traffic at their markets has increased compared to one year ago and another 44 percent say it’s about the same,” reports Scott Sumner, CEO of Sumner Communications. “That’s good news for the million plus flea market and swap meet vendors across the U.S.” Only seven percent of managers surveyed say shopper traffic has decreased. Challenges market managers face include finding qualified vendors, generating market traffic, the economy and weather. Vendors say they are concerned about competition, lack of shopper traffic, lack of market advertising and the economy.
“Our research found that, not only is business the same or better than last year according to 93 percent of managers, the industry provides a dependable work environment,” Sumner points out. Nearly 24 percent of managers say their markets have been operating for 31 or more years and 12 percent say their markets have been open for 21 to 30 years. Similarly for vendors, 15 percent have operated booths for 21 or more years; 22 percent for 11 to 20 years; and 39 percent for three to 10 years. Only one quarter of vendors surveyed say they have been in business for two years or less. “Our survey also revealed that 55 percent of market managers also operate booths,” Sumner shares. “This gives managers a hands on understanding of their markets from a vending perspective as well as a personal investment in the promotion and success of their markets.”
Accordingly, 93 percent of managers advertise their markets, cited by 51 percent of vendor respondents as a key consideration when selecting a market. The number one characteristic vendors look for in a market is good customer traffic (97 percent), followed by low cost rental (64 percent) and convenient location (52 percent). Managers most commonly promote their markets through newspapers (79 percent) and flyers (76 percent). Television is the least popular method of advertising, named by 18 percent of managers.
Most vendors sell new merchandise, most popular of which is gifts
“Our research confirms that the overwhelming majority of vendors, 95 percent, sell new products,” Sumner continues. “Some consumers have the misconception that flea markets sell only used merchandise. In fact, numerous markets offer boutique style shops that carry high end fashion merchandise.” Among vendors, the most popular new merchandise categories to sell are gifts/novelties (27 percent), fashion accessories (26 percent), apparel/footwear (24 percent) and collectibles (20 percent). “Consumers might also be surprised to know that more than one quarter of markets surveyed host 1,000 to 5,000 visitors on an average day,” he notes.
In line with its dedication to flea market professionals, Sumner Communications recently launched PROVENDOR, the Professional Vendor Association. Of vendors surveyed, 8.2 percent are members of PROVENDOR. “Membership is free,” Sumner states, “and the association provides huge benefits including ongoing deals, flash sales, monthly newsletters and industry best practice articles.”
Sumner Communications’ website www.FleaMarketZone.com is dedicated to this thriving industry. “It’s personally gratifying to see FleaMarketZone.com continually gain hundreds of new visitors,” Sumner notes. “We were up to 31,000 unique monthly visitors in July and Merchandiser Group magazine’s circulation is more than 150,000. This is a pretty strong indication that our publications continue to meet our readers’ information needs.”
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 operations multiple industry websites, which deliver daily business news, insights, and merchandise and product information.
To get more research results, along with other member-only benefits, join PROVENDOR.