The Woodward News

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April 16, 2013

Woodward could support more retailers

Woodward, Okla. — An economic development consultant believes Woodward has the business environment and community dynamic to support more retailers.

This includes some big name retailers such as T.J.Maxx, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target and Old Navy.

"Old Navy should be here already because you have the dynamic," Ricky Hayes, with the consulting firm Retail Attractions, told Woodward city commissioners during their meeting Monday night.

For example, Hayes noted that companies like those mentioned above "look for a baseline of $50,000 or above" for the average household income in a market area before they will even consider expanding into that market.

Within city limits alone, he said the average household income is $52,538.

In addition, he said, "46.10, or almost 50 percent if you round up, of the population of Woodward has an income above $50,000.  So you're well within that baseline."

But the more "eye-opening" statistic, Hayes said, is that when he expanded the population numbers to include Woodward's trade area of over 65,000 people, "that income level goes up."

In the larger trade area, he said the average income level is $59,600 and 47.40 percent of households have an average annual income at or above $50,000.

However, just having the right dynamic and demographics isn't enough, Hayes said.  The community also needs to have someone who can continually promote it before different retailers and make those retailers take the time to actually look at Woodward and consider developing here, he said.

The reason, he said, is because of the intense competition that exists for retail development with almost 43,300 zip codes across the nation and each one looking for new businesses.

"Because with 43,000 zip codes vying for retailers, what happens is that the voice of a city gets lost in the cacophony of all those other cities," Hayes said.

That's where a consulting firm like Retail Attractions can help communities like Woodward, by being able to "get Woodward in front of these retailers every day," he said.

"I can't guarantee that I can get Old Navy to come to Woodward, but I can guarantee that the decision maker for Old Navy will know everything there is to know about Woodward," he said.

In his presentation to the city commissioners, Hayes also discussed how his market research revealed that the city is losing millions of dollars in revenue through "retail leakage."  He explained this leakage refers to money spent by residents inside the Woodward trade area at outside markets.

This includes $36 million lost to outside restaurants (including both limited and full service restaurants).  "Woodward is severely under-restauranted," Hayes said.

In addition he said there is an estimated $29 million lost to outside supermarkets.

"You have a huge hole in supermarkets," he said.  "Now there's a move away from your mama's grocery store, to smaller, more modern, health-centric markets.  Now you're not going to get a Whole Foods, but I do think you have the ability to recruit a specialty market that will have more variety in its offerings."

Another problem area is health and personal care, where Hayes said Woodward is losing almost $19 million in retail leakage.

"You already have a Walgreens, but I think you're a candidate to also have a CVS or other big name health care store," he said.

All told, when including other retail areas such as home improvement, clothing stores, and sporting goods and hobby stores, Hayes said "you've got a quarter of a billion in leakage.  A lot of that is going to Oklahoma City and some to Enid and other areas.  But our job is to help get that money to stay here."

As part of that, Hayes said he and Assistant City Manager Doug Haines would be attending the International Council of Shopping Centers' annual convention in Las Vegas this May to meet with retailers and get Woodward's name out there.

"Hopefully if we sow enough seed, we'll get a good harvest," Hayes said.

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