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Retail Trading Area

    Retail Trading Area

    What you’ll learn to do: Explain the significance of selecting a store location

    Retail trading areas can be primary, secondary or fringe. We will discuss each and determine ways to identify the trading areas for a new or expanding retail establishment.

    Panoramic photograph of a mall front in Manila.



    • List the types of demographic data a retailer can obtain from the U.S. census bureau
    • Describe the types of data a retailer can obtain from geographic information system software (GIS)
    • Identify the main factors to consider when analyzing a retail trading area

    U.S. Census Bureau and Demographic Data

    So remember back to the last section! We found this awesome spot that would be ideal for our new retail location. Well, we think it will be awesome, but there are so many things to think about and analyze before we can say for sure this space will work! We need to know if there are enough people, with a high enough income and the right demographic to shop in our retail store. We also need to make sure we have parking and access, along with knowing the competitive environment. So where should we start? Well, the U.S. Census Bureau collects tons of information!!

    The U.S. Census Bureau

    A census gathers information from every household in the United States every 10 years. This data includes:

    1. Number of people in the household.
    2. Household relationships
    3. Age, sex, race and marital status
    4. Number of household units in each address
    5. Status of the plumbing facilities, number of rooms.
    6. Owner occupied or rental
    7. The value of the home and the vacancy status

    Census data can be out of date, since it is only gathered every 10 years, but it is a good place to start your research once you have chosen a general area.

    This Quickstart will help you pinpoint the demographics you need to get started!

    Note: Quickstart is only available for towns over 5,000 people, so if you are working with a small town, you may need to do some different research!


    Let’s look at Wausau, Wisconsin as an example. The drop down lets you select among a variety of information choices.

    So, looking at the median income of the Wausau, Wisconsin area, if you are planning to put in an upscale steakhouse, do you think it would make sense?  What if you were planning a McDonald’s or a Taco Bell?

    What other information might you be interested in reviewing?

    In this Quickstart, you have access to a variety of topics such as population, age and sex, race, health and economy, among others. Take some time and do a little research on the U.S. Census website. Think about a business location and business idea. Then wander out there and do some research. Do you think the community you chose would support your business idea? Is the population enough? Does the education level support your business? Have fun with this website for a bit, daydreaming about your big idea!

    So remember, this data is only collected every 10 years, so it may be a bit outdated. It is a good starting point though to review your idea to see if the location is feasible.

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