I’m researching the impacts of age structure on retail sales and other measures of economic activity at subnational levels. In many cases I find states are too large an area to look at for meaningful insights. However, I hoped for more from a graph than this.
As part of a bigger research project I am looking at county level retail sales and a variety of population and labor measures so I took a quick stab at mapping out how this looked. The map is for sales per establishment. If you do not normalize by something the map is useless, though what the proper normalization is part of the question. What is interesting is the relative degree of uniformity in sales per establishment. This is a consistency, not a perfect uniformity. It is really surprising where there are hot spots and where there is just more of the same. Gray shaded counties have data suppressed due to privacy concerns and white filled ones are not in the economic census for some reason.
Since I am sure store closures is a story that will continue I took a look at some recent data regarding retail. It is also the case that my friend Richard Carpenter (whose blog I linked to in the past and you can find in the blogroll list) asked me about some of the numbers in this situation.
The Census Bureau released the Advance Sales Report for Retail and Food Services today (available here). While not stellar the nominal increase in sales, year-over-year, was three percent. The Conference Board also released their report today on Consumer Confidence, and it fell significantly (available here). This is why I posted that it matters more what people do than what they feel or say they will do in the future.