Leesburg’s Economic Development Commission held a Retail Opportunity Forum Sept. 20 to update current and potential community business leaders about possible economic opportunities.
As part of the forum, Vice-Chair of the Leesburg EDC Jim Sisley presented the 2012 Leesburg Retail Gap Analysis.
According to the report, a retail gap analysis is the comparison of household expenditures within a specific geography on specific items with retail sales of those specific items within the same geography. Where expenditures exceed sales, households are purchasing those items, but they are making those purchases outside the trade area. These sales are known as leakage.
The study provides a wealth of information covering consumer spending patterns and retail sales potential over a variety of different product categories.
The forum was the second held this year. The first was held in May.
According to Leesburg entrepreneur and EDC member Ara Bagdasarian, the forum provides information to entrepreneurs so they can apply it to growing their business, fill retail space and find new clients.
When he was told about the forum, Bagdasarian was extremely excited about the opportunities it would provide.
“As an entrepreneur, when Jim [Sisley] mentioned the notion of this type of report at a meeting earlier this year, I could not stop salivating,” Bagdasarian said. “For somebody to tell you that here are the opportunities within a geographic area that there is an unmet demand that you can start a business or expand your business to fill that demand you have a great opportunity to take advantage of that.
“This information is absolute gold because it gives you a clear indication of where the opportunities are in the Leesburg market,” Bagdasarian said.
After seeing the results of the data, the top 10 retail opportunity categories were unveiled. The No. 1 opportunity is sporting goods, followed by furniture and sleep equipment; kitchenware and home furnishings; computer hardware, software and supplies; jewelry; packaged liquor and beer and wine; flooring and floor coverings; audio equipment and musical instruments; photographic equipment and supplies; and lastly, curtains, draperies, blinds and slipcovers.
Based on the data presented, sporting goods had a demand last year of more than $12.4 million in expenditures. The supply in Leesburg last year only reached $10.5 million in retail sales. Those two numbers mean that Leesburg consumers traveled to meet their sporting goods needs and those numbers are just within a 10-minute drive time.
“We should have a more robust and more complete retail offering to the buying community than we do right now and the only thing that we lack is information and the application of that information to create those types of opportunities,” Sisley said. “People will go to Tyson’s because they want a more concise and complete efficient buying experience. They may in fact go out to the outlets to buy certain types of products or go to Dulles Town Center to buy back to school clothes for the kids, because right now other than the outlets, we don’t have that offering.”
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