It’s been a busy few months, and I’ve fallen behind a bit on my market updates. Happily, things are going really well and we’re seeing a very strong 2022. With the first 13 weeks of the Chattanooga Market now recorded, we’ve seen an average of $155k in vendor sales each event, with over $2m posted to the Chattanooga Market so far this year. Factoring in River and Erlanger, those totals jump to over $2.5m - the smaller markets have been great for those in attendance.
Take the River Market on 7/9, for instance - a lot of people dropped out due to the possiblity of rain, but vendor sales that day posted their second-best for the entire season ($614/avg per vendor) – customer sales have been steady throughout all locations. It’s a welcome relief, frankly - we’re all due for some good news.
For those of you who like graphs, I’ve created one from beer sales data above – it’s the one product which I have complete access to the precise sales data going back years. For this graph, each point indicates the relative performance for the average market this season – thus Opening Sunday was 1.754 times better than the average day.
What’s interesting in this graph is the gradual downward trend which started towards the end of May, just as gas prices really exploded and the heat got crazy. The last two weeks have shown a bit of a climb towards normal, as gas prices have started to ease. Will things be even better next week? It’s not something that can be predicted, but I do feel that fuel prices and overall inflationary pressures cut into the discretionary and luxury items at the Market – with beer falling into that discretionary category. As inflation is tamed, I do think sales will pump up a bit.
Many of our vendors fall into similar groups - home furnishings, with higher price points, are definitely going to feel tightening belts faster than our weekly food providers. This happens seasonally already, but I believe is somewhat amplified by the current world trends.
The other trend we’ve seen over the years is that our customers visually shop all season, and save/spend during the Holiday cycles. So even as sales in some categories slow a bit, the longer-term play is still healthy. And with fuel prices starting to decline, with most people’s jobs still intact, I’m optimistic that we’re seeing a relatively mild pullback that has the potential to ease quickly as conditions improve.
So far this year, every single Chattanooga Market has been in the healthy six-digit sales range - quite amazing, really. We are fortunate to have such great vendors/parters and supportive customers!