Shop Alexandria? You bet! It has the highest 'pull factor' in the state

When it comes to pulling shoppers into town, Alexandria is tops. In fact, Alexandria has the highest retail sales "pull factor" in the state, according to a recently released report. The "Alexandria and Douglas County Retail Trade Analysis" was c...

When it comes to pulling shoppers into town, Alexandria is tops.

In fact, Alexandria has the highest retail sales "pull factor" in the state, according to a recently released report.

The "Alexandria and Douglas County Retail Trade Analysis" was compiled by the University of Minnesota Extension.

It shows that Alexandria has a pull factor of 4.36, which means that Alexandria has 4.36 times the annual statewide average retail sales per capita.

Data collected and analyzed for Alexandria, Douglas County, and other communities throughout Minnesota is based upon the 2007 Department of Revenue report of sales and use tax information.


Since 2005, Alexandria has had a pull factor greater than 4, and the community has consistently ranked high in comparison to other regional centers and communities throughout the state since these calculations began in 1990.

Pull factors of regional-center communities are as follows:

Alexandria: 4.36

Bemidji: 2.09

Detroit Lakes: 2.13

Fergus Falls: 1.58

Grand Rapids: 2.24

Mankato: 2.43


Marshall: 1.96

Moorhead: 0.50

Only five communities in Minnesota have a pull factor greater than 3, according to the 2007 sales and use tax statistics, including: Alexandria (4.36), Waite Park (4.33), Baxter (4.33), Roseville (3.72), and Rogers (3.21).

The Alexandria pull factor is calculated in two steps:

First, the community's total amount of taxable sales ($474.25 million) is divided by the population (11,187 people). This equals a per capita taxable sales amount of $42,393.

Next, the per capita taxable sales amount is divided by the average Minnesota per capita taxable sales amount ($9,723), which results in a pull factor of 4.36.

These numbers highlight the vital impact that non-residents have on the Alexandria regional economy, according to the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission.

Without the purchases of tourists and people from throughout the greater west central Minnesota region, each Alexandria resident would have to spend an average of $42,393 - or $169,572 for a family of four - on taxable retail goods each year to maintain the 4.36 pull factor, AAEDC leaders noted.


The business and economic success of the entire community is strongly tied to the regional draw of local businesses and employers, noted Jason Murray, executive director of the AAEDC.

Retail Trade Analysis reports (RTAs) are available for all Minnesota counties, for most cities with a population greater than 5,000, and some cities with a population less than 5,000.

The reports allow for the comparison on like-communities to determine retail trends and "leakages" (losses) to identify the need and feasibility of new retail businesses.

"The pull factor is the best indicator of how much retail traffic is pulling into the community or how big its trade area is," said Ryan Pesch, Extension educator with the University of Minnesota Extension. "Since it adjusts for population, it's an apples to apples comparison with other communities across the state."

"The pull factor serves as an excellent highlight to the historical strength of our retail sector and is a very valuable measure of the success of our entire regional economy," Murray said. "The confirmation that this report provides combines very well with other industry sector information showing that our local economy is very strong because of its industry diversity."

The pull factor measurement was developed by Dr. Ken Stone, an economist from Iowa State University Extension Service, to provide a precise measure of sales activity in a locality.

Here's a closer look at Alexandria's statistics:

From 2004 to 2007, annual taxable sales in the city of Alexandria have increased by more than $145 million (44 percent).

The city's population has increased by 956 people (9.5 percent) from 2004 to 2007.

Merchandise categories with high pull factors (4.5 and higher) include furniture, electronics, building materials, clothing and accessories, and general merchandise.

Merchandise categories with lower pull factors (1.5 and lower) include sporting goods/hobbies, non-store retail, accommodations and personal service providers.

Here's a closer look at Douglas County's statistics:

Total taxable sales for Douglas County (2007) were $559.67 million.

Total number of Douglas County firms: 1,201.

Total number of Alexandria firms: 526

(The city of Alexandria has only 43.8 percent of firms in the county, but makes up 84.7 percent of the taxable sales.)

Copies of the 2007 Alexandria and Douglas County Retail Trade Analysis are available online at community.cfm or by contacting the AAEDC at (320) 763-4545.

Related Topics: RETAIL
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