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Bastrop’s retail trade area is substantial

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By Terry Hagerty – Contributing writer/photographer

A spurt in population and an increase in average household income are key components to the substantial “retail trade area” for Bastrop. Aaron Farmer, Senior Vice President with The Retail Coach, briefed the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation’s Board of Directors during an October 16 meeting. The Retail Coach is a national retail consulting, market research and development firm that has been consulting with the BEDC since 2011.

Downtown Bastrop (Photo by Terry Hagerty)

Increase in Population/Household Income – Tracking statistics from 2013 to 2017, Farmer said the population in Bastrop’s trade area had increased from approximately 154,000 to 193,000 over the five-year period. Average household income for the trade area also increased – from $58,000 to $72,000 during the same time. (In community economic development, the retail trade area is the geographic area from which a community generates the majority of its customers.) The Bastrop retail trade area is composed of residents from approximately two dozen area communities/cities “willing to come to Bastrop for shopping, dining and entertainment,” according to Farmer. In displaying a large irregular-shaped yellow area on the screen, Farmer told the BEDC Board that Bastrop’s shoppers come from as far as the Interstate-10 area and from East Austin. Farmer said the Bastrop-area retail market is one of the “fastest” growing in the country. “Every time I run the (retail-trade) analysis, it just keeps getting better. When we go to trade shows, we’re taking these numbers with us,” he said. 

Burleson Crossing (Photo by Terry Hagerty)

Online Competition Not ‘Apocalypse’– Competition from online retail sales has not had significant impact, so far, on store shopping nationally, Farmer said. He said there hasn’t been the “retail apocalypse” that many have claimed due to some consumers shifting to online purchases. He said “brick-and-mortar sales” – shorthand for actual stores – still account for 80-90 percent of retail sales nationally and that “bodes well for Bastrop.” Bastrop’s sales-tax revenues going back to 2011, supplied by the BEDC, back up Farmer’s presentation of a solid retail picture here. Several years of City sales tax revenues over the past seven years have shown annual increases of approximately half a million to $700,000. The figures are: $4,108,781 (2011); $4,824,608 (2012); $4,951,274 (2013); $5,294,045 (2014); $5,952,026 (2015); $6,435,888 (2016); and “year-to-date” for 2017 is $5,478,985.

‘Where Shoppers Come From’ – Where Bastrop shoppers are coming from is tracked by their cell phone use while here. Farmer told the BEDC Board that when shoppers log onto their phone while in a Bastrop store – whether for a call, texting, email or using a phone app – we “get a ping off your phone and we can actually tell your home location.” Farmer added The Retail Coach has a partnership with a company that does the cell-phone analysis, “We do not sell this data – nobody else sees this data except for us.” Bastrop's trade area (The Retail Coach).

‘Rooftop Growth Is Key’ – Farmer emphasized that the square miles of Bastrop’s retail trade area could change, even shrink, as shopping competition is seen from new businesses being established in bordering areas – for example, along the Hwy. 71/130 corridor or the Elgin area. Farmer said, “That’s why rooftop growth is important,” referring to residential growth. “This yellow map changes every year in what its geographic area is. Rooftop growth is important, as the trade-area geography (potentially) shrinks.” BEDC Executive Director Shawn Kirkpatrick seconded Farmer’s thoughts, referring to the importance of residential growth in a follow-up briefing to the Bastrop City Council at its Oct. 24 meeting. Kirkpatrick said there was a “silver lining” in retail competition from area communities that is focusing Bastrop on “making a commitment to tourism and rooftop growth.”