Industry sector: Retail and wholesale

Art gallery: Market research

It's important that you carry out some market research to gauge the level of demand for your gallery.


Your competition will come from other businesses that offer the same or similar items for sale as you do as well as offering similar services. Depending on the exact nature of your gallery, your competitors may include:

  • other local galleries
  • online galleries
  • specialist art equipment retailers
  • craft shops
  • gift shops
  • picture framers
  • specialist picture restorers
  • artists who sell their work direct to the public

It may be useful to try to identify how many competitors there are in your area by searching online, including on and other online directories, by looking in local print directories or by making a physical count yourself.

Be aware though that it's not always a bad thing to be located near to other galleries. Towns like St Ives in Cornwall have become famous for their art and galleries, and they attract thousands of art lovers each year. Just try to make sure that you don't stock items that are too similar to those stocked by your competitors.

Estimating demand

Your knowledge of the art scene in your local area may be such that you already have a good idea of how much demand there will be for the work you are planning to sell and you don't need to carry out any further market research. However, if not, you may wish to assess local market conditions by:

  • visiting other galleries to see how busy they are and to see how swift the turnover of art is
  • talking to the artists whose work you are planning to sell
  • contacting your local tourist board to try to obtain statistics showing the number of visitors to your area, by month, if possible

Why will customers choose your gallery

Customers may choose to buy from you rather than one of your competitors for a number of reasons, including:

  • the artwork that you stock. You will have your own ideas of what will sell and hopefully the pieces that you choose will prove popular with your customers
  • the amount of promotion you do. Promoting an artist's work - through exhibitions, printed advertisements and so on - can increase your sales and introduce an artist to a new audience
  • your location. You should look to open your gallery in an easily accessible area, preferably with ample parking nearby
  • your premises. It is important that customers feel comfortable walking into your gallery for the first time and that they feel able to walk round and see everything you have to offer. Your interior should be clean, well-maintained and well lit so that customers can enjoy the art fully
  • the nature of any other services you offer. You can broaden your potential customer base by offering extra facilities, such as a café
  • your opening hours
  • your prices
  • your connections

Print out the Record sheet to note down the results of your market research.