by David Stanowski
07 November 2007
This article originally appeared in the Galveston County Daily News on 07 November 2007. The text version of the article appears below.
I was shocked to find that Per Capita Retail Sales, in Galveston, have been less than national Per Capita Retail Sales, since 1987! Why wouldn't a city of about 57,000 people, that gets 4.4 million tourists per year, have Per Capita Retail Sales that far exceed the national average? How does Galveston compare to other small tourist towns in Texas?
Location ---- 2006 Per Capita Retail Sales
U.S. ---- $14,550
Texas ---- $13,159
Galveston ---- $8,461
Kemah ---- $15,966
South Padre ---- $18,255
This data shows that Galveston's Per Capita Retail Sales are far below those for the State of Texas, as well as the national figure! The Per Capita Retail Sales in both Kemah and South Padre Island are about twice as high as in Galveston! This is even more surprising since Kemah draws on an almost identical customer base!
If Galveston could increase its Per Capita Retail Sales just to the average level for the State of Texas, it would add $270,235,867 to the local economy each year! Boosting Per Capita Retail Sales to that enjoyed by Kemah would add $431,702,928 each year! This would make a major impact on the Galveston economy!
I also wanted to compare Galveston to small tourist towns in Florida. The most reliable data that I could find was from the last survey done by the Census Bureau, in 1997. Florida’s 2006 data shows that these comparisons are as valid today as they were in 1997. Kemah and South Padre Island are not included in their data base.
Location ---- 1997 Per Capita Retail Sales
U.S. ---- $9,517
Texas ---- $9,430
Galveston ---- $6,016
Florida ---- $10,297
Pensacola ---- $16,748
Panama City ---- $23,089
Bradenton ---- $11,000
Sarasota ---- $18,265
Fort Myers ---- $37,133
Just like Kemah and South Padre Island, all of the Florida towns studied are doing much better than Galveston. Incredibly, Per Capita Retail Sales in Panama City and Fort Meyers are 4-6 times higher than in Galveston!
This data offers no answers as to the reasons for Galveston's anemic Retail Sales, but it does raise many questions:
1. How can Galveston's Per Capita Retail Sales be so much lower than the national average, and for the State of Texas, as a whole?
2. Why are the Per Capita Retail Sales in Kemah almost twice as high as in Galveston; is it the amount of advertising that they do?
3. How many tourists go to Moody Gardens, Schlitterbahn, the West End, the beaches, and The Seawall; but never make it to the downtown shopping district?
4. How much do the downtown parking meters contribute to this problem?
5. Does Galveston have the wrong kind of shops, and/or the wrong merchandise?
6. What does Florida know about Retail Sales that Texas doesn't know?
The bad news is that Per Capita Retail Sales in Galveston are incredibly weak. The good news is that there is a tremendous amount of room for improvement! It is time to solve this mystery!
Maybe someone needs to take a fact-finding field trip to Panama City, and/or Fort Myers!
Also see Retail Sales to Tourists
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