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Alexandria ranks high for pulling in shoppers

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Although it may be smaller than other cities, Alexandria's

retail industry packs a punch.

In fact, a new report shows that Alexandria's retail sector is twice as powerful as other comparable-sized cities in the state.

The information is contained in the just-released 2008 Retail Trade Analysis Report recently from the University of Minnesota Extension's Center for Community Vitality.

According to the report's findings, total retail sales within the city of Alexandria for 2008 were $433.49 million and resulted in a "pull factor" of 4.04 for the community.

This number is very strong in comparison to like communities - a pull factor of 1 indicates that the community has the same per capita taxable sales level as the Minnesota average.

In comparison, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, and Fergus Falls had 2008 pull factors of 1.92, 2.27, and 1.47, respectively.

Alexandria's pull factor of 4.04 was calculated by taking the total 2008 annual taxable sales within city limits ($433.49 million) and dividing it by the city's 2008 population (11,237).

This equals $38,577 in per capita taxable sales for the year, which is more than four times greater than the state average.

To duplicate this figure without the spending of regional residents, businesses, and tourists, every man woman and child in Alexandria would need to purchase $38,577 in taxable goods per year - equaling $154,308 annually for a family of four.

The report shows that the Alexandria area's ability to draw shoppers and tourists is still thriving, according to the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission (AAEDC)

"The Retail Trade Analysis highlights the strength of our community's attraction to consumers from throughout the region as well as tourists from throughout the state and country," noted Pat Kalina with the AAEDC. "The strength of our local marketplace that is highlighted within this report provides a snapshot of the overall strength and diversity of the entire Alexandria regional community."

Data within the 2008 Retail Trade Analysis includes both gross and taxable sales totals for 2008 broken down by industry sector, and highlights the variety of industry sectors that are strong within Alexandria and Douglas County.

Here are some highlights about Alexandria's retail


•General merchandise stores such as department stores, "super stores," dollar stores and variety stores, account for the highest percent of Alexandria's taxable sales income - $8,260 per capita or 21.4 percent of the total.

•The next two biggest categories are "building materials" with per capita sales of $4,075 (10.6 percent of the total) and "eating and drinking" with a per capita of $3,137 (8.1 percent).

•The category that took the biggest jump in retail sales from 2005 to 2008 was "health and personal stores." Taxable sales skyrocketed from $1,645,629 to $3,360,699, an increase of 104 percent.

•The second largest increase, a 33.5 percent surge, happened in the electronics sector. Sales increased from $25.2 million to $33.7 million.

•The third largest increase occurred in the "eating and drinking" category. Sales increased from $26.6 million to $35.2 million, a 32.4 percent increase.

•The category that experienced the biggest decline was "miscellaneous retail," which includes florists, office supplies, pets, antiques, tobacco, art, used merchandise and trophies. Its sales dropped from $13 million to $10.7 million, an 18 percent plunge.

•Another category that dropped significantly was "gasoline stations." Sales plummeted from $4.8 million in 2005 to just over $4 million in 2008, a 16.1 percent decrease.

A complete copy of the 2008 Retail Trade Analysis can be downloaded at or by contacting the AAEDC at (320) 763-4545.

Funding for the report was provided by the University of Minnesota Extension and Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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