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New Report Details Who's Shopping in Birmingham, Complaints About Parking

The most-visited business downtown is the Palladium 12 Theater and the amount spent by Birmingham shoppers continues to decline, according to a new market analysis on the Principal Shopping District.

Who is shopping and dining in downtown Birmingham? Where do they live and where are they going? And what's the one thing visitors would like to see change for the better?

These questions and more were tackled in a seven-page market analysis of the Birmingham Principal Shopping District (PSD), presented last week during the PSD's monthly meeting.

The report outlines not only who shops and dines in downtown Birmingham, but polled shoppers on where they live and where they're going most, while also taking a look at the retail and dining mix.

The report was conducted by Strategic Edge, a consulting firm out of Sylvan Lake hired by the PSD earlier this year. Similar studies of the downtown area were published in 2002 and 2007. The total cost of the study was $22,500.

Overall, Birmingham's downtown ranks highly for its walkability and upscale appeal — 59 percent of Birmingham's downtown shops and restaurants are categorized as "upscale" or "exclusive." Meanwhile, the most popular downtown destinations are offering movies, bagels and coffee.

Who shops in downtown Birmingham?

According to the report, the core shopper in downtown Birmingham is a 39-year-old white woman with a household income of nearly $104,000.

According to reh report, in 2012 shoppers are spending almost $23 per person, per trip — down from $24 in 2007 and $40 in 2002.

Where are they coming from? Shoppers and diners typically come from Birmingham, Franklin, Troy and Bloomfield Hills, with additional shoppers from Royal Oak and West Bloomfield naming Birmingham their "secondary" trade area.

In total, the report states that in 2010, more than 215,000 people made up the "population" of those patronizing downtown Birmingham businesses. Those shoppers and diners had a median household income of $97,946, the report states. In addition, of those shoppng and dining downtown:

  • 82.1 percent are white
  • The median age is 44.1
  • 86 percent are employed in white-collar occupations

What kind of businesses can you find downtown?

According to the study, the numbers of restaurants and other service-based businesses — such as salons — has been growing in recent years, with the total number of both now outnumbering retail shops.

This represents a 5 percent decrease in the number of retail shops since 2007, the report states, and a similar 5 percent increase in the number of restaurants. The number of service businesses have remained fairly constant in the past five years.

Why do people come to downtown Birmingham?

The primary reason people come to downtown Birmingham? According to the study, 34 percent come to dine while 19 percent come to shop.

The most-visited businesses in downtown Birmingham followed this trend: 14 percent came for the Palladium 12 Theatre, 7 percent came to eat at Panera Bread, while another 7 percent stopped to pick up a latte at Starbucks.

Of the 49 most-patronized businesses, the report says, 57 percent are food-related — up from 45 percent in 2007.

What's wrong with downtown Birmingham?

The variety of shops and restaurants, as well as the city's atmosphere and convenience, were listed high when shoppers and diners were asked what they liked most about Birmingham.

However, the biggest problem was parking, though less so than in recent years:

  • In this most recent study, nearly 27 percent disliked parking downtown and other parking-related issues
  • 34 percent said they disliked parking in 2007
  • 40 percent said they disliking parking in 2002
  • Traffic in downtown Birmingham was also listed as a major dislike.

Still, the vast majority of those who travel to downtown Birmingham — almost 80 percent — said they drive there, the report says. Fourteen percent say they walk.

Of those shoppers and diners who do drive, nearly 60 percent say they park in a public lot or parking structure, while 30 percent park at an on-street meter.

What do you like or dislike about shopping and dining in downtown Birmingham? Do you agree with the study's findings? Are you surprised?

Cheri LaGrasso January 08, 2013 at 02:40 PM
I would like to see a wider selection of clothing shops. I am 60 and would love to have lunch with friends and go clothes shopping but where can we go?
Carolyn J. Butcher January 09, 2013 at 08:18 PM
Unfortunately we lost our Chico's, which catered to a more mature woman, with a mature figure (I'm speaking for myself). Love the hometown antosphere, and homecooked type of menu offered at Peabody's. Thankfully they have their own parking, which is normally full during their busiest times. Really appreciate the "walkability" of the downtown area, day and night.

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