City of Perry officials, business owners and others gathered inside Betsy Peterson Designs on Tuesday for a lunch and learn sponsored by the Perry Chamber of Commerce.

Justin Lindsey, of Retail Strategies, was the speaker during the lunch and learn event. City Administrator Sven Peterson opened by saying the City of Perry, Perry Economic Development and the Perry Chamber partnered together to complete the Retail Academy.

Peterson traveled to Birmingham, Alabama, in February to go over the economic information gathered by Retail Strategies for Perry.

Lindsey shared some of that data with the group gathered on Aug. 28. He said Retail Academy was formed to help communities in the 5,000 to 20,000 population range.

“What we realized over time is that city’s don’t need more data, they need more insights behind that data,” Lindsey said. “They need people to out for them and recruit businesses for them.”

What Retail Strategies has found in conversations with communities like Perry is that they could benefit from more local, regional and national retailers in the area to bring more economic development. But beyond that, Lindsey said those communities wanted to learn more about their own community.

“What makes us unique? How can we make sure we’re helping with existing businesses?” Lindsey said.

The reason Retail Academy formed, he said, was to see what the communities market currently looks like to retailers, what the market looks like internally and to support communities overall.

Retail Strategies used several different sources of data to come up with what the market looks like in Perry and the trade area, or everyone drawn to the city.

The population within a three-mile radius of Perry is around 8,000. Moving out 10 miles, Lindsey said, and that number jumps to around 13,000. Daytime population numbers for the three-mile radius is around 7,800 and around 10,500 within a 10-mile radius.

“One of the things that jumped out at me when I first looked at Perry is the (median) household income numbers are right in line, or a little bit higher, than national average numbers,” Lindsey said. “There are not that many communities in the Midwest or in Iowa that can say the exact same thing.”

With that data, Retail Strategies created a customized trade area. The trade area helps to define a core customer base of those likely to shop and eat within the market at least once a month.

The custom trade area includes Perry, Woodward, part of Panora and part of Dallas Center. The average age of those within the custom trade area is 40, with a median household income of $57,725.

The number of households within the trade area is 7,798, while the 2017 population was estimated at 17,907.

Lindsey said around $132 million are being supplied to the entire trade area. Those are the captured dollars by businesses within the trade area.

The market demand, Lindsey added, is around $258 million for the entire trade area.

“What that gets us to is the number we want to see not only for local business owners, but anybody else who considers investing or locating in this town. That’s $126 million in leakage across the entire trade area,” he said.

Lindsey said the $126 million in leakage, or dollars being spent on goods and services outside of the area, is an average number for communities in the 8,000 to 20,000 population range.

The dollars being spent on goods outside the area, Lindsey said, breaks down into a few main categories. Some of those include automotive parts and accessories, tire stores, furniture and home furnishing, electronic supplies and more.

Lindsey said the next step is to compare Perry to similar communities to see what types of retailers they have. That information can help business owners looking to expand into Perry, or current owners looking for some best practices.

“When I talk about the gap analysis, I don’t say ‘Shame on you, you’re losing $126 million of goods every year,’” Lindsey said. “It means that there’s an opportunity, a massive opportunity for growth in the market.”