NABA Forecasts Barter Boom For 2006

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North American Barter Association finds all economic indicators favors huge growth for barter at all levels.

2005 has proved to be another record-breaking year for the barter industry – both at the consumer and commercial levels, but the North American Barter Association’s 2006 annual forecast predicts even more growth to come. Current 2005 stats are still being tallied, but already over $25 Billion of barter in North America has already been recorded with still another month to go. "We may see the $30 Billion mark by years end" remarked NABA's executive director Nathan Forbes.

Today, NABA released it’s 2006 forecast which sees yet another record-breaking year ahead due to many developments in recent months that will make barter even more popular and attractive to consumers, but even more so to small businesses. “Hurricane damage in the billions, the growing costs of the Iraq occupation, volatile energy markets, GM’s 30,000 lay-offs, a 12% increase in bankruptcy filings, China’s growing influence, unpredictable terrorist acts, and a real estate bubble which is expected to burst within the next 3-6 months are all going to wreak havoc on our economy” explained David Busch, one of NABA’s veteran analysts. “And it’s a known fact that when our economy struggles, or even sputters, barter thrives due to consumer doubt and the shortage of hard cash flow. A recession is definitely looming near on the horizon and we feel it will coincide with the collapse of the current real estate market.” NABA officially predicts a 23% growth in barter for 2006 with 72% of that increased growth coming from the commercial sector.

“Over the past few years we have seen record acquisitions and consolidation as both small and large businesses seek financial relief or a competitive edge to insure their survival. We are also seeing corporate America finding symbiotic relationships like the Fedex-Kinkos and UPS-MBE mergers and within the airline industry. This all bodes extremely well for the barter industry and I personally expect to see another major barter boom like we saw after 9/11” said Busch. Barter activity spiked very dramatically after the 2001 tragedy and the growth of most barter exchanges has been outpacing all but a handful of blue-chip public companies. What most people overlook is that the barter industry is one of only four industries that are truly 100% recession-proof. The other three industries are energy, food, and waste management.

NABA’s recent survey of both CFOs and merchants across America support Busch’s forecast as one Fortune 500 CFO in Boston called barter “the morning after pill for our financial failures” and another in St. Louis said “barter is a quick and painless way to balance our books” Merchants also see barter as a reliable way to get full retail value for their unsold inventories, and one floor covering chain owner in New Jersey remarked “Barter is the best safety net I have in my corner”. Clearly barter is growing in popularity and the Wall Street Journal reported that over 60% of Fortune 500 companies now barter on a regular basis. The United Nations, 19 governments, and dozens of charities also rely on barter to preserve their asset base, cut their credit costs, and maximize their purchasing power and cash flow. “Anyone who takes the time to do the math will see that barter is a no-brainer” remarked NABA Director Nathan Forbes.

But there are some pitfalls to barter that the public needs to be aware of and NABA is quick to warn against barter companies that exist only in cyberspace and prey on unsuspecting consumers and merchants. “There are a lot of beautiful web sites out there that mislead people into believing they are dealing with huge and reputable barter exchanges. Astute merchants and consumers should look beyond those web sites and insist upon speaking with current clients and check with the local Better Business Bureau and do some UCC and D&B checks on-line.” Forbes advised. With over 500 barter exchanges operating in North America NABA urges due diligence to all. “Watch out for barter operators who do not itemize their fees in advance or want a part of the trade to be paid in cash” It’s standard procedure for barter exchanges to charge an annual membership fee or monthly service fee, or a barter fee per trade. “This industry is not highly regulated and we count on consumers and merchants to help us identify the scammers so they can be flagged and reported to the authorities” said Forbes. Suspected barter fraud and/or legitimate complaints can be reported to NABA by e-mail (NABA at

In related news, NABA just concluded it’s annual survey of merchants satisfaction with barter exchanges and will issue it’s full report next month identifying the best and worst barter exchanges in both the consumer and commercial sectors rated by seven key categories. The survey was taken of 1,000 random merchants and consumers across North America over the last forty-five days and produced some interesting revelations. Stay tuned...


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Paul Davis/Public Affairs
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