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Retail study shows $1.1 billion gap in Victoria business

By Melissa Crowe
March 18, 2014 at 8:02 p.m.
Updated March 18, 2014 at 10:19 p.m.


COUNCIL ALSO ...

• Approved involuntary annexation of 728 acres of land

• Granted five variances to David Marshall for properties on Broadmoor and Glenmore streets

• Approved a $79,861 contract with Brannan Paving Co. for sidewalks from Loop 463 to Whispering Creek

• Received annual report from the Victoria Fire Department

IF YOU GO

The Retail Coach survey results

• WHEN: 8 a.m. Wednesday

• WHERE: Victoria Public Library in the Bronte Room, 302 N. Main St.

• COST: Free

WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Wednesday

• WHERE: Victoria Chamber of Commerce luncheon at University of Houston-Victoria Multi-Purpose Room, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.

• COST: $17 members/$20 nonmembers

Victoria officials are studying the science of shopping - who buys what and why.

However, a new study presented to the City Council on Tuesday showed Crossroads residents are taking $1.1 billion worth of business elsewhere.

Aaron Farmer, vice president of The Retail Coach, which undertook the $53,000 study, said Victoria has room for two major improvements: big box clothing retailers and casual, sit-down dining.

While the $1.1 billion figure was alarming to Mayor Paul Polasek, Farmer said if the city focuses on recovering 10 to 20 percent of that "leak" every two years, it will be considered a success.

Polasek said he is "very excited" with the development prospects the study identified.

"This is much more than just a study," Polasek said. "This is a working relationship."

The Retail Coach is already working with grocery stores, restaurants and retailers to find sites for new business in Victoria. According to the study, Victoria is losing out on $222 million in food and beverage sales and $176 million in grocery sales.

Assistant City Manager John Kaminski said the key to the study is figuring out where residents are going for their shopping and giving them local opportunities and more options.

Farmer conducted license plate studies at major retailers in Victoria and compared those results with national databases to see where shoppers travel from to the city.

He also compared state sales data with local figures to determine the potential for increased business and how to reel in sales lost to Austin, Corpus Christi, Houston, San Antonio and Sugar Land.

Where Victoria excelled was in sporting goods and hobby store sales, which reached about $69 million.

According to Farmer's analysis, Victoria's retail reach spans from El Campo to Beeville and includes about 205,000 people, and the growth of the daily shopper population is reaching about 7 percent, a figure he said is alluring to businesses.

"It's a very on-the-ground approach," he said. "We're in the community talking to businesses, real estate agents and developers. We get a feel for the community."

Farmer is hosting two public meetings tomorrow; 8 a.m. at the Victoria Public Library and 11:30 a.m. at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

"We'll be working with local retailers on how they can use this information to better their business," Farmer said. "We're also a marketing arm, reaching out to restaurants and retailers to convince them to come to Victoria."

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