Evaluating your market’s economic impact

by Colleen Hanlon-Smith

This information is from www.marketumbrella.org. To access supporting materials to conduct polls and economic impact reviews, please create a free log-in at the following website and select “SEED” under the “tools” menu: http://www.marketumbrella.org/marketshare/

Across the USA, public markets, especially farmers markets, are growing by leaps and bounds. But how much is a leap? Can you measure a bound? Public officials, neighboring businesses, prospective vendors, and market organizers want to quantify market successes But market organizers are often reluctant to take on the task of measuring their impact. Most have never done an economic impact study before, and the prospect can be intimidating.

We created SEED so that you don’t have to repeat our learning curve. You can benefit from our mistakes and our successes.

How we created SEED

Since we established the Crescent City Farmers Market in 1995, we’ve commissioned several studies. Each time, we fine-tuned our methodology. In 2002, the F.B. Heron Foundation awarded marketumbrella.org a grant to develop a measurement tool that others could also use. In 2009, we refined this tool again, to make it even easier to use. Renowned Loyola University pollster Edward F. Renwick, PhD, brought scientific discipline to the task of studying the market and tabulating our results. (You can view PDFs of his reports on market shoppers and vendors.) Based on what we learned from Renwick’s work, we pared down the SEED methodology to make it easier to use. Then, with help from Outpost Design, we developed this online application for you to use, FREE.

How SEED works, in a nutshell

Briefly, SEED provides you with a user-friendly method of estimating the

  • gross receipts at your market
  • number of shoppers in attendance
  • neighborhoods in which shoppers reside
  • dollars they spend at nearby stores
  • frequency of their market attendance
  • sales per square foot (speaking the language of retailers and developers)

SEED gives you tools for interviewing a representative sample of shoppers. These interviews, along with the final tally of shoppers attending the market on the day of the study, will provide the data to input into your SEED account.

Your data will be analyzed in view of multiplier effects that express the impact not just of the spending on a particular market day or series of days but also of successive rounds of re-spending the initial dollars within a region. The greater the interaction each dollar has with the local economy, the larger the multiplier (or in our language, the “stickier” the economy). SEED helps you demonstrate the stickiness of the dollars spent at your market.

How SEED supports your market

Nearby retailers will be most interested to learn how many shoppers and dollars the market brings to their stores – numbers that may help you build support for your market. Rural legislators will be interested to learn how an urban initiative – a public market – benefits their constituents (your vendors). And almost every member of your audience will find some piece of self-interest in the multiplier effects that come from a single market.

About Leigh Hallett

Leigh has been Executive Director of the Federation since 2014. She can be reached by email (director@mffm.org) or by calling the MFFM offices (487-7114).