Economic Development Newsroom

Mayor Releases Cash Economy Study

Thursday August 21, 2008

Retail companies are missing more than $1.1 billion in potential sales in many Louisville neighborhoods, according to a report released today by Mayor Jerry Abramson.

The study, conducted by Social Compact of Washington D.C., shows that people who live in neighborhoods ranging from Russell and Portland to Valley Station and Okolona have roughly $6.7 billion in annual income – $1.1 billion more than reported in U.S. Census figures.

Those areas also have nearly 45,000 more people than reported in the Census.

“Retail stores should be lining up to tap into that extra $1.1 billion and those extra 45,000 people, but it’s been difficult to get their attention,” Abramson said. “But, armed with this new data, I have a message for retailers – Louisville is open for business and there’s money to be made in our city.”

The city’s Economic Development Department commissioned the study to determine the true spending power of 10 areas of the city that do not have enough retail stores. The areas include West Louisville, South Louisville, Downtown and Newburg.

Many people in those neighborhoods use cash for transactions, but most retailers, especially national chain stores, track spending through credit and debit card receipts.

Social Compact spent months studying the cash economy in Louisville by examining everything from utility bills to school enrollments. It determined that many Louisville neighborhoods have more economic clout than Census and other data suggests.

The city will share the data with local and national retailers it’s trying to attract to the city. Abramson said the city has been working for years trying to convince Target or Wal-Mart to open in the West End. Most recently, the city tried to convince Kohl’s to open in the Shively Center on Dixie Highway

The Dixie Highway corridor has about $480 million in previously unknown spending power, the report showed. This proves that South Louisville needs more stores, ranging from clothing to electronic stores, Abramson said.

The study revealed that downtown Louisville, including parts of Eastern Downtown, Russell and Butchertown, registered a dramatic increase in household income.

The 2000 Census showed those areas with a household income of $18,667. But the Social Compact study revealed the income is actually much higher -- $41,011.

The study also showed that the average household income of new buyers in downtown is $104,249 – proof that high-income families are moving downtown, Abramson said.

“I’m eager to share this new data with companies to show them that they’re missing sales in our city,” Abramson said.