Gabriola farmers market’s economic impact $1.28M: study

Gabriola farmers market’s economic impact $1.28M: study
Photo: Olga Lacovlenco
Gabriola Island is pictured.

Gabriola’s farmers market had an economic impact of $1.28 million in 2023, according to a study conducted by the British Columbia Association of Farmers’ Markets and a researcher at the University of Northern British Columbia.

That number encompasses what the researchers call the “ripple effect” of every dollar spent at the market, including what vendors spend on inputs for their products sold.

Annual direct sales at the Gabriola Agricultural Co-op’s Saturday market are estimated to be $853,000 with average spending by shoppers per visit of $32.26. It is estimated there are over 35,200 visits and 26,400 shoppers annually. Twenty-eight per cent of shoppers surveyed self-identified as tourists or day-trippers while 52 per cent of the survey respondents said they visited the farmers market almost weekly or two to three times per month.

An overwhelming majority of study participants – 93 per cent – said they spend $45.92 each shopping or eating at other local neighbouring businesses. Shoppers spending at local neighbouring businesses is $1.03 million annually.

The results are based on one-day, on-site assessments by the research team. For the Gabriola assessment, estimated attendance was 618 people and comments included that the survey day, Sept. 23, was rainy with vendors noting market attendance was slow for that time of season. The Wednesday night market that runs July to September was not included in the researchers’ assessment.

In comparison, though not directly as factors such as the survey day for each market, number of market vendors as well as days of the week and months of the year in operation vary, the Cedar Sunday Market had annual direct sales of $2.43 million with 39 per cent of survey respondents visiting the market almost weekly of two to three times per month, while the Qualicum Beach Saturday market, which runs year-round, brought in $5.46 million in direct sales with 51 per attending almost weekly or two to three times per month.

A total of 70 farmers market assessments were completed across the province between May and September, 2023 bringing in an annual economic impact of $232.9 million.

“Quantifying the economic contributions of farmers markets encourages long-term support for local B.C. agriculture and food sectors, along with the thousands of farm and food businesses who sell at farmers markets across B.C.,” the provincial report says. “Furthermore, this study demonstrates the role of farmers markets as integral low-barrier, direct sales channels for local BC producers and shoppers to connect, while showing us their essential role in local food security and food systems.”

By Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder

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