Study: Downtown Indy Spending Power Doubles

A new study released by the Indy Chamber suggests a bright future for retailers in downtown Indianapolis. The study, “Downtown Indianapolis Retail Spending Power,” was conducted by Chicago-based real estate research and advisory firm Hunden Strategic Partners and shows the total retail spending power of downtown residents, employees, students and visitors hit nearly $500 million in 2018, up from $200 million in 2000. That number is projected to reach $650 million by 2024.

Catherine Esselman, senior project manager for economic development at the Indy Chamber, tells Inside INdiana Business the goal is to use the data to help change the narrative for retail in downtown Indy.

“We’re not known for shopping in downtown Indianapolis,” said Esselman. “Those five demographics that this study looked at, students and residents, daytime visitors, overnight visitors and employees, nowhere else in the state can you find that diversity of person walking around on our streets and I think we need to tell that story to a national and regional audience and better equip our local brokers and developers and retailers to encourage them that this is a market that they should consider.”

The study estimates that the average daily number of residents, visitors and employees in downtown Indy has risen to nearly 240,000 and about half of that increase comes from residential growth.

One of the key findings from the report shows a significant demand for more diversity in retail options, such as grocery, general merchandise retailers, home and garden suppliers, and furniture stores, among others to “conveniently meet the daily needs of the downtown community.”

“Retail means so many different things,” said Esselman. “There’s a desire to not have to travel to go to the store, to go to the north side or to the south side, but to be able to do that steps from your home or within a bike ride or a scooter ride. So it’s thinking about how we shop and what sort of amenities and services, as well as daily needs are missing from our downtown market. One of the things that the report looked it is yes, we have $440 million worth of retail buying power but are people actually spending that dollar, or are those dollars leaving our market and we’re not capturing those?”

The report comes as the Indy Chamber and the city of Indianapolis kicks off the BuyIN: Advancing Indiana’s Retail Strategy initiative. The official launch of the effort takes place Wednesday evening and will include a discussion of retail programs and priorities, including an update on the St’Art Up 317 pop-up shop initiative taking place this month.

“We’re working to incorporate retail into our economic development strategy for the city of Indianapolis,” said Esselman. “It is something that builds a sense of community (and) sense of place. We want to empower and equip those front line individuals, the commercial real estate brokers, the owners of mixed-use developments in that 2.5-mile radius, that they have these numbers and can take these data points and talk about their product and their offerings more effectively.”

You can connect to the full report from HSP by clicking here.