Key Concepts For Economic Development In Small Cities and Towns

Across the United States, many small and mid-size communities are struggling to find an economic development strategy that really works. Thankfully, you don’t have to muddle through this without guidance.

There are three key concepts to keep in mind when developing a smart strategy for economic growth. You’ll want to focus on supporting businesses, supporting workers, and supporting quality of life. Plus, you’ll also want to find ways to support your development strategy and get professional help with moving forward.


Support Businesses

It’s pretty obvious that supporting existing businesses and attracting new businesses has a positive impact on a city’s economic development. Doing this helps create jobs, expands and diversifies your tax base, and improves quality of life by offering a variety of services and amenities.

If you’re a small town on a highway (for example), adding a QuikTwip will bring in a lot of traffic/business. That could lead to fast food chains like a Taco Bell or Chicken Express opening locations nearby, driving up sales even more. Not only does retail growth of this kind serve residents, but it also brings in business from outside the community as well.

Support Workers

It’s easy to overlook the human side of economic development, but that would be a big mistake. Studies show that the education level of the population in your city is the single most important factor that shapes economic success. That means your city needs to attract and keep talented, skilled people.

You’ll also want to ensure that all residents can successfully compete for jobs. A balanced economic development strategy will include a focus on workforce development efforts. These efforts will help ensure that the skills and education of the local workforce line-up with the needs of existing and growing industries.

Support Quality of Life

Cultivating a good quality of life in your community supports both residents and businesses. The term “quality of life” is hard-to-define, but it undeniably sets communities apart from one another. It’s one of those things that people know it when they see it but can’t always say exactly what it means.

Factors that can improve quality of life include a thriving downtown or commercial district and a variety of transportation options. Community resources, gathering spaces, and aesthetic improvements also tend to enhance quality of life.

Support Your Strategy

As you develop an economic strategy for your city, getting professional advice can be a game-changer. It’s not always easy to know what to focus on first. Plus, small market communities often have trouble getting retailers to build in your area.

That’s why it’s worth it to hire Retail Attractions. Data is one thing, and it’s important. But it’s another thing when Rickey can call the personal cell phone of decision makers and tell them your site is a prime money-making location. His network of connections brings a lot of extra benefits that just having the data won’t do. Plus, his years of experience with helping cities grow and develop gives him the insight you need to guide you toward supporting businesses, workers, and quality of life in your city. Contact us today to learn more.

If you liked this article, be sure to pick up a copy of Rickey’s new book The Devil’s In the Details: Things that Challenge City Government and the Language of Development. It addresses issues that undermine foundational economic development efforts for cities. It also provides guidelines for how to overcome those issues. Click here to order.

5 Essential Steps For Smart Economic Development and Retail Growth

Is your city ready for economic development and retail growth?

Most cities want to grow and develop their economies. But you’re not going to achieve that goal without taking steps toward building a smart economic development strategy.

No matter what your city’s particular situation, you’ll benefit from taking the time to define your strategy. Putting in this prep-work in helps ensure your economic development efforts will meet the community’s needs and goals. Here are five essential steps to help you get started.


1) Choose Where To Focus

The first step in planning economic development and growth is to choose where you’ll focus your efforts. Each location, neighborhood, or area that you choose as a focus will have distinct goals.

There’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for economic development. Your strategy is going to depend on the area of focus. For example, goals when developing an industrial area will be different than when working in a downtown shopping district.

2) See Where You’re At

Once you decide what areas you’re going to focus on, take a close look at what you have to work with. This should include a history of the work done in this location as well as the impact it had. You’ll also want to take into account information related to the current state of the area.

At this stage, data collection and analysis should focus on helping you identify the existing condition and challenges in the target area. This data will help you define goals for the area. This doesn’t necessarily involve extensive data collection – only the information you need to start setting goals.

3) Set Goals

Now that you’ve chosen a focus area and collected data related to that area, it’s time to define clear goals for your economic development strategy. The specific goals will depend on your area’s needs, but as a general rule the goals should line-up with key concepts for economic development. This includes supporting and attracting businesses, supporting workers, and supporting quality of life.

4) Identify Existing Barriers

Now that you’ve defined your goals, you have the information you need to identify barriers that might stand in the way. This step helps ensure that you’re shaping your economic development strategy in a way that equips you to meet all the challenges posed by the location you’re developing.

For example, let’s suppose your focus area is a downtown shopping district and your goal is to make this area more vibrant. Barriers to achieving that goal might include outdated retail space, lack of convenient parking, and/or property owners who don’t share your goals.

5) Use The Right Tools

Identifying barriers to achieving your goals helps you figure out what types of tools you’ll need to overcome those obstacles. These tools typically include policy changes or actions that communities can take to help the development process work more smoothly. Examples include streamlining the permitting processes or incentivizing property owners.

Hiring an expert consultant is another valuable step you can take toward overcoming obstacles related to economic development. Here at Retail Attractions, we have extensive experience helping cities achieve their goals related to economic development and retail growth. Just contact us today to get started.

Make The Most of Future Retail Development With These Tips For Strategic Site Selection

If you want to make the most of future retail development, then it’s time to for a more strategic approach to site selection.

It used to be that most companies approached site selection as a tactical activity rather than a strategic one. No matter how many new locations you were planning on opening, there’s a good chance you treated each site selection individually. The goals for this type of process are often concrete and focused on specific locations rather than on how each site relates to a larger plan.

Strategic site selection, on the other hand, takes a more holistic view of things. With this approach, you’ll be thinking about your company’s long-term goals. You’ll also focus on figuring out how each selected site relates to those goals.


Think Long-Term

For strategic site selection, you’re going to want to take into consideration more than just how each site will work for your company today. You’ll also want to consider how site selection relates to your entire network of locations. In addition, you’ll need to consider future plans for expanding your network as well as the current state of your business ventures.

Of course, this means extra work on your part. But taking the time to research, plan, and strategize in addition to the other steps you take during the retail site selection process is going to pay off in the long-term.

Remember The Basics

As you’re developing your strategic, long-term site selection plan make sure you don’t overlook the basics of site selection. Choosing the right location for new retail expansion is key to success. You don’t want to overlook important factors about choosing individual sites because overall goals distracted you.

Strategic site selection starts with narrowing-down which cities and towns fit best with your long-term goals for building a network of locations. Once you do that, it’s time to zoom-in and choose the best site to build. For further information about this vital step, check out our articles on the most important factors in retail site selection:

Evaluate Ongoing Performance

Part of strategic site selection is continuing to evaluate your site after selection. A location that used to work really well might not be ideal 10 or 20 years from when you first selected it. As you continue to track data on each location, you can adapt your strategy to include evaluating existing locations. Some under-performing locations might just need additional investment to reach their full potential. For others, the strategic decision might be shutting that location down and investing resources elsewhere.

If you want help with making your retail site selection more strategic, get in touch with us. We have extensive experience helping retailers find the best possible locations for their next expansion. Also, be sure to pick up a copy of my books. City On A Hill is a book about cities and how to make them better, and my new book The Devil’s In the Details addresses things that challenge city government and the language of development.

What Do The Five Principles of Urban Economics Mean For Your City?

For decades, scholarly journals have published hundreds of studies on urban economics. People studying cities ask questions like, “Why do some cities grow and others decline?” and “What makes certain cities generate more wealth than others?”

Of course, when you’re living in and managing a city, answering such questions is about more than academic curiosity. Figuring out what makes cities grow or decline and how cities can generate more wealth are vital to the success of your city.

In “Five Principles of Urban Economics,” published by City Journal, professor Mario Polèse proposes five principles about the economic development of cities. These principals sum-up more than 50 years of research into urban economies into several key points. In this article, we’re going to look at how these points can help turn all this urban economics research into practical advice for your city, including cities with populations of less than 50,000 people.


1) Size And Location Are Key To Determining Wealth

It’s not much of a surprise that a city’s size and location help determine its wealth. What’s more surprising is that city rankings relative to each other stay remarkably stable. In the United States, for example, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia have stayed the three largest cities east of the Mississippi for well over 100 years. They’ve also remained in the same order.

A city’s relative size and its location are key to determining how much growth it can experience. They also play a big role in determining the city’s economic potential. It’s unlikely that a city which is relatively small and in an out-of-the-way location now will become the “next New York City” or the “next Chicago” any time soon.

This doesn’t mean that smaller communities are doomed to never grow or thrive. In fact, communities with populations fewer than 50,000 residents constitute almost 90% of our country’s general-purpose local governments and many are doing quite well for themselves. Make sure you don’t under-sell your community’s potential just because it’s not one of the largest cities in the area.

2) Dramatic Growth Is Usually Caused By Outside Events

Location and city size aren’t everything. Sometimes cities grow and develop at a rapid pace that has very little to do with their original size or location. According to the research, this type of growth is almost always caused by outside events. Similarly, major changes can undermine a once prosperous city’s economic advantage quickly.

Changes in transportation technology can open up markets for a city, or shut them down if new traffic flow bypasses the city. The development of air-conditioning opened up greater growth for cities in hot climates like Phoenix and Houston. Changing demands for manufactured products can also have a huge effect on cities.

It usually takes a significant outside event – such as the development of new technology or a political shift – to trigger dramatic growth in a city, regardless of its starting size. It’s not usually something those within the city can control. Cities can, however, make choices that trigger growth on a smaller scale.


3) Accessible, Well-Connected Cities Grow Faster

Transportation technologies have a profound influence on which cities grow and which ones do not. Cities that manage to make themselves a hub for travel and commerce have a decided advantage over neighboring cities. Some cities benefit from having a major highway, high-speed railway, and/or airport. Others profit based on having a central location or close proximity to major market centers.

The first two principles on this list aren’t something most cities can apply proactively. They’re more something to understand about how urban economics work. For this point, though, the key principle to take away is that city administrators must be on the lookout for opportunities that new transport links can provide. You’ll also want to be aware that lost accessibility can seriously impact city growth.

While you can’t reliably control whether or not a major highway goes through your city, you can make sure that your city is accessible. A 2017 report by the National League Of Cities (NLC) found that economic development and infrastructure are tied as the top most important issues for cities of less than 50,000 people. Market access and connectivity play a crucial role in expanding a city’s economic potential. And that means that it’s time to make long-deferred investments in roads, bridges and related infrastructure a top priority.

4) Every Industry Leaves Its Impression On A City

Once upon a time, quite a large number of cities grew quickly because they specialized in one industry. In many cases, the first cities to industrialize made rapid progress. But when the economy started to shift toward being more knowledge- and service-based, industrial cities had a difficult time transitioning.

When a single industry dominates a city it can result in a wide variety of problems down the road. We’re seeing that in the United States today as many cities with large plants and big factories struggle to find their place in today’s economic environment.

There’s no easy way to fix this problem or to manage the transition. However, broadly speaking, it’s important to accept that some industries will eventually close and that cities will need to diversify into different industries. For small cities of less than 50,000 people, one of the more effective strategies is to invest in raising the quality of life in your city to make it more attractive to new businesses and residents. Bringing in a diverse range of small firms might not provide as many new jobs as attracting one larger company. However, it can be to your advantage in the long run.


5) Good And Bad Policies Do Matter

Even though scholars have poured decades of research into understanding urban economics, Polèse admits that “econometric models rarely succeed in explaining more than half of cities’ variations in growth over time.” While it might be frustrating to know that there’s no model which can predict your city’s success with 100% accuracy, this can actually be a good thing.

There’s no way for these principles of urban economics to take into account how much of an impact local individuals, businesses, and politics can have on a city. A dynamic mayor, a forward-thinking entrepreneur, or savvy city planners can have an enormous impact on your city’s growth potential. With the right combination of people and opportunities, just about anything is possible.

On the other hand, it’s also easy for bad policies and change-resistant individuals to hold a city back from developing its economic potential. Poor government can undermine even the best advantages in location, technology, industry, and other key areas. Whatever the size of your city, good and bad policies in local government play a vital role in success.

In Conclusion

Navigating the world of urban economics is an enormous challenge for any city. And it can seem especially challenging for smaller communities. One way to take your city to the next level is by consulting with an economic development expert.

Here at Retail Attractions, we specialize in helping both small market communities and large cities grow to their full potential. Economic and retail development are key to growing any city, and we have extensive experience guiding cities through this process. We also offer consulting services related to municipal infrastructure, demographic data and market analysis, strategic planning, and much more. Contact us today to find out how we can help your city.

If you liked this article, be sure to pick up a copy of my new book The Devil’s In the Details: Things that Challenge City Government and the Language of Development. It addresses issues that undermine foundational economic development efforts for cities. It also provides guidelines for how to overcome those issues. Click here to order.

How To Identify And Act On Retail Opportunity Gaps In Your City

If you’re looking to bring new retailers into your city, it’s important to know what type of demand there is among your population. One way to find out where the retail in your community isn’t meeting the demand is by using a retail opportunity gap analysis.

When you know what people are leaving your community to buy it empowers you to take steps toward stopping retail leakage. With a reliable gap analysis to work from, you can begin an educated retail recruitment campaign to bring in the appropriate retailers and stop the revenue bleed.


What Is A Retail Gap?

When people living in your city’s retail area leave to shop elsewhere, it indicates your population has a demand that’s not met by the current supply in your community. This gap between demand and supply is what we mean when we talk about a retail opportunity gap. We also call this “retail leakage.”

This gap represents the potential to fill a demand by bringing new retail into your community. When you have a reliable opportunity gap analysis to work from, then you have a starting point for targeting retailers that fill the sales gaps in your marketplace

How Do You Find Gaps?

Getting a gap analysis is pretty easy. There are even online tools that will do it for free. However, those sorts of tools are extremely basic. They also don’t take into account all the variables needed to generate a reliable analysis of retail leakage/opportunity gaps.

The first step toward a reliable gap analysis is to accurately define your trade area. Then you’ll need to identify where the customer base within the trade area is spending their money. Those who are shopping outside of your trade area represent retail leakage. For these steps, it’s a good idea to hire a retail expert who will ensure the reports are accurate and useful.

How Can I Get Accurate Reports?

Estimating trade areas requires skilled judgment and experience. Concentric rings or drive times reports are too simple a method to provide more than basic information. That’s why Retail Attractions takes into account factors such as population densities, retail voids, competitive communities or retailers, natural barriers, traffic flow, accessibility, and convenience. This lets us define an accurate primary trade area.

Once we’ve defined the trade area, it’s time for an Opportunity Gap Analysis. This analysis provides an actionable portrait of sales opportunities, allowing you to maximize your growth strategies. We generate an opportunity gap analysis by using sales potential to depict supply and geography-based estimates of potential annual consumer expenditures to depict demand. Then, we’ll use our expertise and connections to help bring in retailers who can best fill the gaps in your community’s retail landscape. Just contact us today to get started.

If you found this article useful, then you’ll probably also like my books. Click on the titles below to learn more and order a copy.

Here’s Why It’s So Important To Keep Municipal Infrastructure Up To Date, and What You Can Do To Make That Happen

Municipal infrastructure is the sort of thing most people take for granted until it stops working. Unless someone’s job involves working on this infrastructure, they only think about their town’s sewage system when the toilet won’t flush, or wonder about stormwater management when their basement floods.

If you’re involved in local government, though, can’t afford to forget about municipal infrastructure until it breaks down. It’s important that you keep this infrastructure up-to-date for both residents and local businesses.

That’s easier said than done, though. Funding shortages and other logistical concerns can keep cities from keeping their municipal infrastructure up to date. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get some help coming up with a workable solution?


People Are Counting On You

Residents in your community depend on you to provide reliable and affordable municipal services. Not only that, but businesses count on these services as well and you’ll have a hard time attracting new businesses if the municipal infrastructure can’t support retail expansion.

Streets, bridges, sewers, water pipes, treatment plants, transit systems, electricity grid, high-speed broadband, and cellular service are all vital to today’s cities. If you want a thriving community for the people and businesses who are counting on you, then you’ll need to invest in your infrastructure.

Challenges To Infrastructure Improvements

Your community isn’t the only one struggling to find ways to keep municipal infrastructure up to date. Cities across the United States need significant infrastructure improvements. In most cases, local governments don’t have the resources or the finances to pay for all the needed improvements. Getting state, federal, and private-sector funding is also a huge challenge.

Another challenge that faces communities is the need to increase understanding of how serious infrastructure problems really are. Cities also need to develop new, sustainable, and innovative methods of financing the infrastructure that residents need. In addition, you’ll want to develop a plan for updating and maintaining infrastructure in a way that makes sense logistically as well as financially.

How We Can Help

Retail Attractions provides general municipal consulting services for growing communities. We help clients with the development of:

  • Local or regional comprehensive plans
  • Water, stormwater and sewer master plans
  • Transportation/traffic flow master plans
  • Technology master plans
  • Zoning master plans
  • Parking, lighting, sign, and landscaping ordinances

We can also advise and assist city governments with annexation efforts. In addition, once a community has a plan for a healthy infrastructure, Retail Attractions can help entice retail development to your community. Just contact us today to get started.

If you liked this article, be sure to pick up a copy of my new book The Devil’s In the Details: Things that Challenge City Government and the Language of Development. It addresses issues that undermine foundational economic development efforts for cities. It also provides guidelines for how to overcome those issues. Click here to learn more and order a copy.

Want To Make Your City “Smart” Here’s What You Need To Know About How The Internet of Things Relates To Cities

You’ve heard of smartphones, but what about smart cities?

As we move into an increasingly digital future, we’re connecting more and more things to the internet. Want street lights to switch on-and-off at a certain time relative to sunset? Connect it to the internet. People having trouble knowing where to park? Connect parking meters to the internet and drivers can check which are available from their phone.

Connecting things like street lamps, parking meters, coffee makers, thermostats, security cameras, and many other devices creates what we call the Internet Of Things (IoT). In the future, anything that can be connected will be connected. And that includes cities just like yours.


Here’s What A “Smart City” Looks Like

Using the Internet of Things to create smart cities is still a relatively new concept. Many cities are already using it, though. And it’s a good bet that the trend of using IoT to improve the lives of people within cities will continue rapidly. Here are some of the many ways connecting city systems to the Internet of Things can look like:

Roadway sensors monitor conditions related to traffic congestion, weather, accidents, etc. Sensors can send messages to signs in the town and/or smartphone apps.

Smart parking meters show available spots on apps, which cuts down drive time for those working and shopping in your city.

Smart thermostats regulate heating and cooling to optimize energy usage in commercial buildings.

Water monitors streamline water quality assessments, detect leaks, and make it easier to manage water use.

Smart lampposts only brighten during specific lighting conditions or when pedestrians or vehicles approach.

A smart electricity grid analyzes energy use and adapts in order to deliver the optimal supply needed for each household.

Air pollution sensors and weather prediction monitors make it easier to monitor sustainability efforts.

Waste sensors in garbage bins monitor garbage levels and optimize routes for waste collection.

Smart emergency cameras help dispatcher determine severity of emergencies and find optimal routes to the locations.

Pros and Cons To Using The Internet Of Things

IoT allows for nearly endless connections to take place, and we don’t fully understand yet what the impact of those connections will be. It’s an exciting prospect to think of city systems working together to make things better for the people who live in the cities. But there are also some challenges and concerns.

Security is the biggest issue facing the Internet of Things. The more devices that are connected to the internet, the greater the potential that someone could hack into the system. There’s also the related issue of privacy and data security to consider. The issues don’t have easy answers, but they are something to keep in mind and continue discussing as you start to use IoT in your city.

Don’t Get Left Behind

The analyst firm Gartner estimates that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices making up the Internet of Things. That sounds like a lot, but other sources say that estimate is actually too low. Some even put the number at over 100 billion.

With so much of the world incorporating technology, you don’t want your city to miss-out. Here are Retail Attractions, we can help you navigate issues related to economic and retail development as your city becomes increasingly influenced by the IoT and other technology. Contact us today to learn how we can help your city.

If you found this article useful, then you’ll probably also like my books City On A Hill and The Devil’s In The Details. Click on the titles below to learn more.

City On A Hill: A Book About Cities and How to Make Them Better

– The Devil’s In the Details: Things that Challenge City Government and the Language of Development.

What Challenges Do Restaurants Face In The New Year?

2019 is shaping up to be a challenging year for the restaurant industry. For many restaurants, last year was marked by weak customer traffic and stagnant sales. Rising food and labor costs, as well as changing customer demands, indicated this year isn’t going to be much easier.

It’s not all bad news, though. Restaurant stocks are doing better than the broader market. Plus, as President Trump’s tax cut starts to reach customers they’ll have more money to spend at restaurants.

Even though there’s some good news, you’ll still want to be ready for the struggles facing restaurants in the new year. Keep reading to learn about four big challenges restaurants should prepare for in the year ahead.


Optimizing Delivery and Packaging

More and more Americans want take-out options or food delivered right to their door. That means extra work and planning for restaurants. It can also involve costly technology investments.

Restaurants who want to offer delivery need a way to get food to customers quickly and without losing any of the quality. For some, this means investing in new product packaging to keep food warm but also well-ventilated so things like fries or pancakes don’t get soggy. For others, it means investing in more catering vans or partnering with a food delivery service like Uber Eats or GrubHub Inc.

Leveraging Customer Data

Online, take-out, and delivery orders result in a wealth of customer data. Leveraging this data is key to crafting marketing initiatives that bring customers back for more food.

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for restaurants to access this data. Restaurants that partner with a third-party delivery service might find themselves in a battle with their delivery company over who owns this information. To get around this, Pizza Hut owner Yum! Brands Inc. invested in GrubHub last year so they have access to data from both their restaurants and the delivery service.

Dealing With Food Inflation

The time of cashing-in on inexpensive food ingredients may be drawing to a close. Bob Derrington, an analyst at Telsey Advisory Group, estimates that average food costs in 2019 could go up about 5.4 percent. There’s an especially good chance that beef, chicken, and cheese will be more expensive.

It’s tempting to raise prices to cover the increasing costs of food, but restaurants have to be careful of that too. Bob Goldin, a partner at food-service consultant Pentallect Inc, says that “Restaurant pricing is starting to be an inhibitor to the industry for growth.” You don’t want to lose money on your food, but you also don’t want to drive customers away with rising prices. It’s a difficult balance.

Working With Labor Inflation

Unemployment is low, which means restaurants have to work harder to attract employees. Higher wages, minimum-pay hikes, and investments in employee benefits all put added financial pressure on restaurants.

Some companies deal with the labor shortage by offering bonuses or freebies to attract workers. Others are making things easier for kitchen staff so they can get by with a smaller group of workers. The approach you take is going to depend on the specific demands of your restaurant.

If you found this article useful, then you might also like my books City On A Hill and The Devil’s In The Details. Click on the titles below to learn more.

Don’t Forget The Human Side of Economic Development

Economic development efforts tend to focus more on places than on people. Investing in projects such as a new stadium, casino, or convention center seems like the better long-term bet for a city. The ROI for encouraging residents to pursue higher education, for example, isn’t readily apparent. People that you invest in might move out of your city, but the local projects you build are going to stay here.

However, ideas surrounding economic development are starting to shift. More and more often, economic development strategies are starting to focus on people, technology, and economic activity that relies on ideas, knowledge, experience, and quality of life.

Thriving cities must find a balance. They need to focus on both place-based economic development and strategies that focus on people within the community. When you keep the human side of economic development in mind, the city and all its residents benefit.


The Importance Of Talented People

The education level of the population in your city is the single most important factor that shapes economic success. In fact, we can explain 60% of the variation in per capita incomes among metropolitan areas just by looking at what portion of the adult population has a four-year degree.

This means that if you want economic success, you need to attract talented, educated, and skilled people to your area. In order to do this, economic development efforts need to tackle issues like city livability and affordable housing. Things like upgrading sidewalks and sewage systems might not seem like a good way to develop your economy, but if those projects keep high-earning people in your city they’re well worth it.

A Need To Improve City Environment

Developing your city’s physical and business environment can go a long way toward creating a vibrant local economy. There’s a lot more to economic growth than simply building new projects. Site selection and development, improving municipal infrastructure, and other forms of strategic planning all have to play a role.

For example, retailers want to locate in cities where they’ll have an easier time connecting with their target customers. And that means your city needs to be a place where people want to live, work, and shop. Building diverse, interesting urban spaces that are friendly to walking and biking with convenient parking for those who drive is a key part of this.

How To Analyze Where You Are Now

It’s hard to take into consideration everything related to economic development when your city’s working on its own. Hiring a retail development expert gives you a huge advantage in finding a way to balance all the economic development needs of your city and population.

Here are Retail Attractions, we consult with cities on economic and retail development, municipal infrastructure, strategic planning, demographic data and market analysis, and much more. We’ll help you find the best way to grow your economy, attract new businesses, and fill the needs of our population. Simply contact us today to learn more.

If you liked this article, be sure to pick up a copy of my new book The Devil’s In the Details: Things that Challenge City Government and the Language of Development. It addresses issues that undermine foundational economic development efforts for cities. It also provides guidelines for how to overcome those issues. Click here to order.

The Most Important Factors In Retail Site Selection: Part Two

There are several important factors to consider when you’re making decisions about retail site selection. Choosing the right location for new retail expansion is key to success. Location, location, location…As such, it’s vital that you understand all the factors involved.

The better you understand these important factors, the more likely you are to have a successful development site. We talked about five key factors in Part One that will help you narrow-down which cities and towns can be good fits for your business. Today in Part Two we’ll talk about five more factors that can help you choose the best site to build.


Co-Tenant Quality

It’s vital that you consider the existing tenants surrounding a potential location for retail expansion. The neighboring businesses often have a profound effect on your success. You want to locate where surrounding tenants are drawing consumers already. The quality of the real estate around the site should be compatible with the use as well. Buildings with a lot of swag and national brands probably wouldn’t be a good co-tenant with a vape shop or a tattoo parlor.

Proximity to Competitors

Some would think that locating too close or adjacent to a competitor would not work. But it wouldn’t take you long to disprove that miss-conception. I was doing work for a national QSR looking at sites in an urban area and lo and behold every site they wanted to see already had a McDonalds near or on the opposing corner. This really excited the franchisee as he wanted to be as close the big boys as possible.

Traffic Counts

Getting information on traffic counts for any given location is pretty easy. Just make sure the counts you get are current. Every retailer wants the same thing, accessibility and visibility. The object is the more traffic the better, but consider access, and turning movements and ease of exiting your location back to the main traffic corridor. Lots of cities are designing boulevard style streets with medians and landscaping. Right in and right out only turning movements are a requirement in lots of urban and suburban settings. Just make sure the due diligence is done and all the issues are planned through.

Parking Availability

Customers don’t like having to park off site or pay for parking. If you build in a location without good parking, there’s a good chance some customers will decide your business isn’t worth the extra hassle. A well-maintained, convenient, and free parking area is a definite asset when you’re selecting a retail site. Most modern building codes require a certain number of parking spots per square foot of the building anyway. Mutual access and mutual parking agreements are also common. Study the essentials and avoid disappointment.


The last, but certainly not least, factor we’ll talk about is the economics of your retail site selection. When considering finances, take a look at the value each property you’re considering can offer. The price you’re paying to build, purchase or rent space definitely plays a role. You’ll also want to consider utilities costs and amount of maintenance you’ll be responsible for. If you want to be next to the big boys be prepared to pay.


If you liked this article on important factors in retail site selection, be sure to check out the other articles on And if you want any help with retail site selection, get in touch with us. We have extensive experience with helping retailers find the best possible locations for their next expansion.

Also, be sure to pick up a copy of my new book The Devil’s In the Details: Things that Challenge City Government and the Language of Development. It addresses glaring problems and issues that destroy foundational economic development efforts for cities and provides guidelines for how to overcome those issues. Click here to order.