Trade Area Characteristics vs. Site Characteristics

Proper market planning requires an in depth analysis on multiple areas that are best suited for your specific goods and/or services. But how do you analyze the trade area before you identify the site within the trade area? Isn’t this putting the cart before the horse?

For years, store development professionals have struggled with this concept. Which is why most sites that are presented for development consideration begin with an explanation around the characteristics associated with the site. If the site characteristics don’t work for whatever reason, then why would the trade area characteristics ever matter? This is the exact reason why, for decades, people focus more on the site characteristics associated with a potential site and less about the trade area characteristics associated with the site.

This line of thinking is, of course, backwards. Why are you even considering a potential new site, regardless of its characteristics, if it is located in a trade area that does not support your business model? Trade area characteristics should always be analyzed before site characteristics. ALWAYS! If anyone tells you different, they are an idiot.

Visibility
Access (Ingress / Egress)
Traffic Position (AM / PM side of road)
Far Side / Near Side of Traffic Light
Parking Spaces
Building Size
Number of Potential Seats
Drive Thru Potential
Zoning / Permitting
Signage Potential/Restrictions

What are trade area characteristics? Again, glad you asked! Here are a few examples:

Residential Population
Median Household Income
Number of Employees
Types of Industries
Competition
Retail Synergy
Number of Households
Traffic Counts
Age Classes
Educational Attainment

These are all great questions and important to evaluate in any potential real estate development. Unfortunately, the site characteristics associated with the potential development are usually the focal point and end up becoming the selling point. Believe it or not, someone with ZERO restaurant development experience can identify site characteristics. So many professionals today in restaurant development struggle with proper assessment of the actual trade area surrounding the proposed site. Again, if the trade area sucks for your business model, who cares about the site characteristics? If the trade area is one of the best in the marketplace, then discuss what it is going to take to find the right site characteristics within this high profile trade area?

Determining the boundary lines of a trade area is definitely a combination of art and science. We, here at Restaurant Development Experts, have created a methodology that combines both disciplines (art & science) for determining a site’s primary trade area. This proprietary method of trade area delineation allows us to choose the site first, determine the primary trade area second and then analyze the potential of the trade area third. Once this task is complete, we prioritize the trade areas from best to worst based on the client’s specific recipe for success. The end result, a best in class market plan that places the client in the driver’s seat for determining sustainable short term and long term growth strategies.

For more information on our unique market planning methodologies, or to find out more about trade area characteristics vs. site characteristics, please do not hesitate to call us direct anytime or shoot us an e-mail with your questions and we will be sure to promptly respond.

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