Downtown Office Workers - A Huge Untapped Retail Market

June 21,2012

Downtown Atlanta is home to over 118,000 daytime office workers - the highest concentration of workers in Metro Atlanta.  A recent study released by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) takes a closer look at how and where these workers are spending their retail dollars.  The findings indicate that Downtown Atlanta is greatly underserved and is a prime location for new retail investment.

Office-Worker Retail Spending in a Digital Age

The study recently completed by ICSC entitled, "Office-Worker Retail Spending in a Digital Age" provides a snap-shot on how and where the U.S. office worker is spending their retail dollars.  The study indicates that on average, U.S. office workers spend a total of $129 each per week. Throw in expenses associated with their commute and the weekly average rises to about $195.  

Of the $129 spent each week, $102 is spent on goods and services available in and around their office buildings. The greatest share of those dollars being spent at a grocery store.  "While you might do your big grocery shopping on the weekend, the day-to-day stuff is accessible to and from work and you see that in the numbers," states John Connolly, ICSC's senior research analyst and coordinator of the 84-page report. Office workers are spending approximately 20% of their dollars at a grocery store.  And while the assumption might be made that a significant amount of retail dollars are spent at lunch-time restaurants, it accounts for only 14% of the average weekly expenditure.  

The report also makes the following important conclusions -

  • Markets with ample retail tend to experience significantly more spending - approximately 140% more - than in limited-retail venues.  
  • The potential upside of building mixed-use properties is clear.  "With gas running $5 a gallon or close to it, the people who come into the city to work do not want to be hopping in their car and driving back home immediately. They want all of the amenities right where they work", states Raymond Peloquin, vice president of the commercial practice group a the design firm RTKL
  • "Each one-percentage point higher share of spending by the office worker group will generate $2.7 billion in additional aggregate sales revenue for local businesses", writes John Connolly,  "And that estimate is quite conservative."