In 2014, after the market had been underway for a year or so, we decided we should try to put some numbers behind our gut feeling that the market was having a significant impact on our local food system. We wanted to know how the farmers market was actually performing, and more importantly, how it was contributing to the local economy.
After some scouting around online, we found a free resource to undertake our own economic impact study of the market and published a report in 2015. The study turned out to be one of the most important things we have done. Farmers markets across Australia and even internationally have used the data we gathered. The study made headlines at the time, resulted in several radio interviews, and provided the basis for meaningful conversations with all levels of government. When you can provide dollar figures for the impact on the local economy, it can be translated directly into local jobs.
The results showed that the total immediate economic benefit of the SAGE Farmers Market to vendors, the host neighbourhood, and the surrounding region is close to $3,228,000 annually and attracted an estimated annual attendance of 37,856 shoppers.
The survey comprises a deceptively simple set of questions that we ask customers:
- How many times per month do you visit the market?
- Is the market your primary reason for visiting this area?
- How much money do you estimate you spent today at the market?
- Do you have plans to spend money elsewhere in the area?
- If yes, please estimate how much you have spent or plan on spending today at other businesses.
- What is your postcode?
- Male or female?
But that was already four years ago and we think we need a progress report. So we will be repeating the study from January 2019 using the same questions and methodology. We will do four sampling sessions over the course of the year, and will be asking for volunteers to count numbers of shoppers as well as to ask the questions. That means at least 10 people each survey to do this very important work.
This time, we plan to take advantage of mobile technology to help us collect and enter the data, which proved to be a long and tiresome task during our first study. We’re assessing available data collection apps, but would also like to hear from anyone with experience who can recommend a good, free, off-the-shelf product, or would like to offer the skills as an app developer to create a custom tool for us.
The study will be coordinated by SAGE Farmers Market committee members Penny Cook and Shirley Taylor. If you’d like to volunteer as a head-counter or surveyor, please contact Penny by email.