Office Workers Spend More in Dense Retail Areas

March 26, 2012

icsc-us-office-worker-spending-by-offerings-march2012.jpgUS office workers spend a much larger amount of money per week in areas they perceive to have ample retail, restaurant, and services offerings, than in areas where those options are viewed as limited, details the [pdf] International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) in a March 2012 report. Looking at spending habits among office workers when going to work, during the business day, and immediately after work prior to returning home, the ICSC found that spending per week among office workers in areas with ample offerings averaged $305.89, almost 2.5 times higher than the $127.10 average spend among workers in areas with limited offerings. Looking at total spend less transportation costs and online purchases, the discrepancy was even more vast ($218.11 vs. $74.45).

Average Weekly Spend Around $200

Data from the study indicates that the mean weekly spend of the average office worker is $195.22, of which $66.03 is devoted to transportation ($35.92) and personal online purchases made at the office ($30.11). Excluding those who spend nothing (5.4% of the survey sample), the average spend rises to $206.31, with $74 allocated to transportation and online purchases.

Suburban Workers Spend More

The study also found that suburban office workers are bigger spenders than their urban and small town/rural counterparts. On average, they spend $226.66 per week, 36.6% more than urban office workers ($165.93) and 58.9% more than small town or rural office workers ($142.62). When removing transportation and personal online purchases made at the office, the gap between suburban and urban office workers narrows somewhat. Suburban workers, who spend on average $80.14 per week on transportation and online purchases, spend 26.7% more than urban office workers ($146.52 vs. $115.60). However, because transportation and online purchases make up a greater share of small town and rural office workers’ budgets, removing these from the equation left them with only $90.55 in weekly spend, 38.2% lower than suburban office workers.

Other Findings:

  • The office worker spent on average, $26.71 per week for food. Just 3 in 10 visited a full-service restaurant during the week, while 55% went to a quick-service restaurant, including a deli or company cafeteria. According to survey results released in March 2012 by the NPD Group, 38% of US consumers (aged 2 and up) limit themselves to one morning eating or drinking occasion, while 41% have at least two occasions on a typical morning. 43% of the average 1.4 morning eating or drinking occasions consist of a beverage but no food, such as a morning coffee, while 11% consist of a snack.
  • Office workers spent an average of $102.47 per week on all goods and services expenditures, with the largest share of that spend held by grocery stores (19.3%). Following were discount stores (10.6%) and warehouse clubs (9.7%).
  • Transportation share of spending was highest in urban markets (21.9%), ahead of small town and urban (20.2%) and suburban (16.6%) markets.
  • Online purchases made up the largest share of weekly expenditures among suburban market workers, at 18.7%.

About the Data: The office-building worker spending survey data were collected during the week of October 21- 31, 2011. The original logic for the selection of October as the point in time to field the survey was that October sales were considered to be a typical month based on its share of annual sales. The average distance from the respondent’s home to his/her office building was 21.3 miles, while the median distance was 10 miles. During the survey period, the vast majority (86.9%) of workers drove their own vehicle to work, 1.3% carpooled, 7.0% used public transportation and 3.5% walked to work. The demographics of the responding individual were: (1) 42% male and 58% female; (2) the average age of the respondent was between 45 and 54 years old; (3) the median educational level was a bachelor’s degree; and (4) the median annual income was between $75,000 and $99,999. During the survey period, 82.9% of the 4,000 respondents reported that they had worked the full workweek, while 17.1% only worked part of the week. To understand the retail availability in and around the vicinity of the office workers’ buildings, the survey asked respondents to self-classify their area as either having a large variety of stores (“ample” retail offerings), such as drug stores, restaurants, fast-food places, dry cleaners, etc. or having a limited number of stores and variety (“limited” retail offerings). It was hypothesized that the consumer could judge ample or limited based on what the person tended to buy. Ample retail offerings were perceived to exist for 38.1% of respondents, while 61.9% perceived their offerings as limited. Since the questions were about direct expenditures during the workweek, if a worker did not have any gasoline fill-up during the workweek (they may have filled-up on the weekend or the prior week, for example), then it would be appropriate to respond that they had no expenditure. This is similar for the other categories. There were 215 respondents that had no expenditures at all of the 4,000 surveyed.

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