If you are among the boomer generation, and from the South Shore, do you remember when Lakeside Mall was new? We do, and it was a big deal! But nowadays (especially with the increase in the millennial generation), you know that technology affects everything, including how you shop.
For our recent business EXPO, our Small Business Council, led by David Boudreaux of Whitney Bank, planned two seminars for our entire membership, including one on commercial development in St. Tammany Parish. They were curious about how some national storefronts locate here, and why others don’t. We begin with this opening theme as we share some of the statistics that were presented during the presentation by Marty Mayer, CEO of Stirling Properties, and our 2006 Board Chairman.
Here are some interesting facts:
Some malls across the country are dying, and need to be “de-malled.” Some can be “re-malled,” for example the Hammond Square Mall. Lakeside Mall still rocks it, as one of the highest dollar producing malls in the country! Who knew?
What’s the trend regarding office space? Standard office space used to be 300 square feet per person. Today that is reduced to 125 feet. The millennial generation prefers the extra space to go towards a place to work out, or open collaborative, and shared office space. Oh, and throw in a park on the office campus. We already hear about telecommuters: in the near future, one in four workers will work remotely, from home.
Of course our Chamber and local businesses promote shopping local. Retail competes with online shopping giants like Amazon and eBay everyday. When asked to guess what percent of total retail takes place online, the surprising answer was 6%! Or as we like to say, ONLY 6%. On the other hand, 80% of shoppers LOOK online before shopping locally. Retail stores have begun to offer “experiential retail.” Retail shopping won’t die, but it will change, and offering an experience is part of that change. Our small business community is part of our quality of life here, so yes, please always shop local!
And let’s not forget the tax impact of online shopping. Our Chamber of Commerce is among those across the country that support the Marketplace Fairness Act, a bill before Congress calling for equal sales tax for online sales. It is estimated that the state of Louisiana alone loses $1.2B per year in sales tax income to online sales. Online customers are supposed to self-report their taxes. Keep in mind the crisis the state budget remains in, and that 1/3 of the state budget comes from sales taxes. It isn’t called Marketplace “Fairness” Act for nothing.
Millennials, you currently have $2B (yes, billion) in buying power. And, keep in mind that within the next 40 years, 40% of U.S. citizens will be over 60 — that means you! This statistic is the reason behind seeing more medical offices within or nearby retail spaces. How convenient for the boomers of today and the millennials of tomorrow. Quality healthcare is perhaps the most critical part of quality of life.
Let’s close with the question of why we don’t have some favorite national chains. According to Mayer, it’s complicated to match the demographics for which store demands to be near or next to another, same for restaurants. St. Tammany is growing, but we are not yet big enough for one example that requires a population of 500,000 within three square miles, or 40,000 cars passing in front of its location daily, and a median per capita income of $75,000. But if you loyally support local small business, you thankfully still have plenty to choose from right here in St. Tammany West.