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Archive for August, 2009

Now is the Time for Cities to Plan Their Retail Future

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

Even casual observers of the news media can’t help but notice the coverage on the retail industry over the last few months. Scores of national retailers have announced bankruptcy in 2008 and 2009. Retailers who were growing aggressively only a few months ago have stopped looking for new sites and are re-evaluating growth plans for the 2010-2011 development cycles. Unfortunately, the consensus among industry leaders is that it is not over yet. However, many in the retail and development communities understand the cyclic nature of their industry, and are quietly planning growth strategies for the future.

So what does this mean for a city trying to recruit retail in order to boost over-all quality of life and generate much needed sales tax revenue?

It means growing cities must understand the basics of retail development and how to pro-actively position themselves at the top of the list for when future retail growth opportunities present themselves. One of the first things a community can do is to analyze and verify their true Trade Area; once the consumers in that trade area are identified, specific sets of information must be communicated to the retail world. In the past, a “concentric ring” approach was used to determine the strength of a retail market. For many cities, a one, three, or five mile radius does not even begin to accurately describe their retail market and potential draw. Cities should be aggressive in defining and marketing their retail potential to site selectors, retailers/restaurants, and brokers.

Even in the current economy, many retailers and restaurants are still expanding, and working to fill their real estate pipeline for 2010, 2011 and 2012. But they are also paying special attention to their real estate decisions. National retailers are prioritizing their investments and picking markets where the best return is available. Fewer deals mean more competition and cities must be their own advocates to the retail marketplace.

To land new retail in your community, you need to be providing the right information. Things to include in your marketing strategies are:
• Clearly define and verify your trade area using third-party data
• Be able to identify and describe the consumers within your trade area
• Provide the most current demographics and psychographics to specific retailers you are targeting
• Realize the retail potential within your community
• Analyze leakage and then target retailers who could fill the missing niches

Retail Attractions, LLC provides its client cities with valuable data and strategies to harness their full retail potential. Communities that are aggressive in marketing themselves to the retail world will be strategically set when the economy begins to strengthen.

Rickey Hayes is the principal of Retail Attractions, LLC, a firm dedicated to helping cities and developers successfully find retail sites, close deals and improve the quality of life for our client cities.
 

Marketing Cities with Technology

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

One of the first tasks a city must master to gain a competitive advantage is applying technology appropriately. In long-term efforts to reach out to new businesses, retailers and potential residents, efficiently using state of the art technology allows cities to reach more people with the right message more quickly. The Internet has fundamentally changed the way place marketing is done. Web site optimization, social media, and email have changed former business models completely, and those communities not adopting a more modern, business-like approach and using technology to market themselves will lose opportunity in a highly competitive arena.

In today’s world, people shop, learn, communicate, and are entertained while seated in front of a computer or web-enabled Smartphone. A community that wishes to be in the middle of progress must be on the cutting edge of technology. I am not just saying cities should use technology for the sake of showing how many widgets can be placed on the homepage, but instead carefully apply available technology to set the city apart. If the city’s location is unique, for instance, don’t tell about it on the web site: show it via video clips on YouTube or another video sharing site. Do the people really shine? Let them via a forum, resident blog, or by featuring user content somehow.

A city has to think ahead of growth because if they react instead of being proactive, they are continually behind the curve and always trying to catch up with other, more competitive communities. When a retailer, developer, or potential new industry begins research for investment opportunities in new communities and markets, that search begins on the Internet. If your city has a poorly designed web site or does not provide accurate, easy to find data, your community may be overlooked or even eliminated from the search. With easy-to-use website solution and innovative site construction, first impressions can become lasting business relationships.

Rickey Hayes is the principal of Retail Attractions, LLC, a firm dedicated to helping cities and developers successfully find retail sites, close deals and improve the quality of life for our client cities.