Counting visitors entering your farmers market requires planning and adequate personnel. The number of data collectors needed depends on how many discrete entry/exit points that your market has. If you have a particularly busy entry/exit point, it may be important to station more than one data collector there. Once you decide what the best locations to station your collectors, count how many data collectors you’ll need. Once done, send out a call to your community and partners (if you are not using staff, board or paid collectors) and schedule an hour to prepare them for data collection by following the steps below.
Map Your Market: Create a map of your market by sketching its physical features. Include vendor booths, seating areas, buildings, and other structures. Then mark all entrances. Entrances can be primary (i.e. designated entry points), or secondary (i.e., between booths, or through an alley). Identify any secondary entrances that could be easily blocked off on counting days. If you can move a garbage can, chairs or even use caution tape to block off a secondary entrance, it will help guide visitors to the primary entry points, and decrease the number of data collectors you’ll need.
Once you have identified the entrances, give each one a name (i.e., the street name, food court, north intersection, by the bank, etc.) so that everyone on your team is clear about which entrance is which. Ideally you will have one person assigned to each market entrance. However, if multiple entry points (primary and secondary) exist easily within the same field of vision, they can be monitored by one data collector. Create ‘zones of responsibility’ on your map which outline the areas (including one or multiple entrances) that can be monitored by one counter. Number the zones. The number of zones of responsibility on your map is also the number of data collectors you’ll need to perform a visitor count.
Sketch of a market map, with zones of responsibility and entry points identified.
Identify Your Counting Periods: Counts will be conducted for 20 minutes of each hour that the market is open. The first counting period should begin 20 minutes after the market opens, and the counting periods should remain consistent. So, if your market opens at 9:00am, counts will take place from 9:20am to 9:40am, 10:20am to 10:40am, and so on. If your market opens at 8:30am, counts would take place from 8:50am to 9:10am, 9:50am to 10:10am, and so on. Enter the time of the counting periods into the Visitor Count Record. Testing the count: If it all possible on at least one the counting days, try to to do what is called a full count (counting everyone entering throughout the entire day). Some markets only use the full count method which reduces the possibility of over or under estimating attendance by basing it on a 20-minute window. That can be a problem for some markets which have a rush at the beginning of the market or in each hour but slower attendance later. If doing a full count, the counters should also keep track of the 20-minute counts; that way, the accuracy can be tested. Read the Counting Visitors at Markets article in the FMC Resource LIbrary to learn more about counting methods and share with your collection partners and counters too.
Prepare Collection Materials: Complete the customization of the Visitor Count Record by including your market’s name and your market map. Add any other information you’d like your data collectors to know, and print copies for each data collector. Provide data collectors a Visitor Count Record, with hand-held clickers. Hand-held clickers are inexpensive, subtle, and improve the accuracy of these counts. If no clickers are available, instruct data collectors to keep a tally of visitors on the back of their Visitor Count Record. If tallying by hand, data collectors may require clipboards.
Implementation: Assign one person to keep an eye on the clock, and to make sure that all entrances are staffed at the designated times. This person should also collect all Visitor Count Records at the end of the day. Give each data collector a Visitor Count Record, and highlight the instructions:
- + Count only adults.
- + Count individuals.
- + Do not count visitors that re-enter.
- + Do not count vendors.
- + Record the total from each 20-minute counting period on the Visitor Count Record.
- + If you can, set an alarm on your phone or watch for 5 minutes before the start of each period and 5 minutes before the end of each period, to help us maintain accuracy.
Assign one data collector to every zone, and walk with them to the zone. To ensure clarity, point out the boundaries of their zone both on the site, and on the market map. Collect the Visitor Count Zone Reports at the end of the market day. Read more [/accordion_panel]
Vendor sales often go undocumented because of concerns about vendor privacy and difficulty in collecting the information, but it’s imperative that market managers have access to this information. Without sales information, you can’t to make informed decisions about market operations, or accurately demonstrate your market’s impact on its vendors and local economy.
Many markets have found that using anonymous sales slips allows them access to vendor sales data, without making vendors uncomfortable. This document will outline the implementation of an anonymous vendor sales slip system, however, if you prefer to track the sales at the vendor level, without anonymity, the process and workbooks are easily adaptable. Simply include the business or farm name of your vendors where the workbooks ask for Vendor Sales Slip ID, and ask your vendors to include their name on their own Vendor Sales Slips[…] Read more
To find an average number of SNAP-eligible goods available at the market, use the SNAP Eligible Goods Checklist. Each day that you complete the tally is represented by one column in the checklist (columns B, C, D, and E). The checklist may be completed directly in Excel or printed out onto three 8.5 x 11-inch pages.
Starting at one end of the market, visit the first vendor’s booth or table. For every product type available, mark one tally in that product’s row, under the Data Collection Day One Column. If a vendor offers at least one type of SNAP-eligible product, they should be counted as a “Vendor Offering SNAP-Eligible Goods.” Add a tally for each of these vendors in row 15. Once you have marked a tally for every product offered for sale by the first vendor, move on to the next vendor’s booth, and repeat. Repeat for each vendor at the market. The Checklist also has a place to make note of the total number of vendors present, in column 14. To find this number, count as you go, or refer to market day attendance records.
If you complete the tally on paper, totals should be transferred into the SNAP Eligible Checklist in Excel, where calculations will automatically be completed. Scroll down to enter the total number of times a listed product appears for sale among all vendors on the data collection day. Once these numbers are entered into the Checklist in Excel, the workbook will calculate the:
- + Average number of vendors offering SNAP-eligible products per market day;
- + Average number of SNAP-eligible products per market day;
- + Total number of fruit and vegetable types offered for sale; and
- + Percentage of Vendors Offering SNAP-Eligible Goods Per Market Day.
[…] Read more
Data Entry Workbooks
Farmers Market Metrics Web Platform
Looking for an easy way to store, analyze and communicate data on your market’s impact? FMC’s Metrics software offers the opportunity to input data as you collect it, view dashboards and trends in real time, and print automatically generated infographic reports. You can easily track data for a single market, or for multiple markets within one organization.