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Facts & Figures

The Shrinking of the Middle Class in America

The Shrinking of the Middle Class in America

Even as the economy is reported to be in ‘recovery’ we continue to hear about the long-term impact of the ‘Great Recession’ on the Middle Class, particularly that it is shrinking. Is it true? Take a look at the data, and it’s hard to disagree. Fewer households are falling into the mid-range income levels, and overall median household income is still well below it’s all-time high reached in the year 2000.  

We’ve charted the most recent median income data of all U.S. households, as reported by the Census Bureau, shown in 2012 dollars (i.e. adjusted for inflation). This figure has dropped more than $5,000 from 2000 to 2012. Economic analyst, Robert Reich, has suggested defining the middle class as those who earn 50% above or below the median income. This would mean the range of middle class incomes has also declined in the last decade as well:

  • 2000 middle class income range:  $28,156 – $84,467
  • 2012 middle class income range: $25,589 – $76,769

Median HH Income 1967-2012 ranges

Now, let’s visualize the data on a map utilizing our GeoMetrx online mapping tool. Take a look at how 2000 median household income (by county) compared to 2013 median household income, also adjusted for inflation. Median HH Income ranges from lower to higher (lighter green to darker green), and there is a distinct shift to lighter green from 2000 to 2013. In particular, note the Detroit, Dallas/Ft. Worth, and San Francisco Bay Area regions.

Median HH Income 2000

Median HH Income 2013 highlighted

How will this affect your business concept, franchise planning and sales territory mapping strategies? For more information on how GeoMetrx can help, please call us today at 1.888.848.4436 or request a free demo online. Let our experts help you make the most of your business concept.

World’s Largest Oil Spills (25th Anniversary of Exxon-Valdez)

OilDropOn March 24, 1989, exactly 25 years ago today, the Exxon Valdez struck a reef in the Prince William Sound in Alaska. More than 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled into the pristine water. It was the largest oil spill in the U.S. at the time. The disaster had far-reaching effects. With fishermen no longer able to practice their livelihood and local businesses going bankrupt, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and depression dramatically increased in Cordova, the hardest hit town in the aftermath of the disaster. While economically things are better, the environmental recovery is still incomplete. Local resident Michelle O’Leary reminds us “there’s no way to put the oil back once it spills.” (Source: NPR)

Just this weekend, on Saturday, March 22, 2014, a barge carrying nearly 1 million gallons of marine fuel oil collided with a ship in Galveston Bay. The shipping channel was closed between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico, backing up ship traffic as far as the eye could see and bringing business to a halt. How much of the especially heavy, sticky oil from the collision has leaked into the bay is not yet known. Any oil spill, no matter the size is an environmental and economic disaster. How much is 1 million gallons of oil? Well, for comparison, an Olympic size swimming pool holds approximately 660,000 gallons!

Largest oil spills in the world:

• 1991: Gulf War – Persian Gulf – 240-336 million gallons
• 2010: Deepwater Horizon – Gulf of Mexico – 205 million gallons
• 1979: Ixtoc I Oil Well – Gulf of Mexico – 140 million gallons
• 1979: Atlantic Empress –Caribbean Sea – 90 million gallons
• 1992: Mingbulak Fergana Valley – Uzbekistan (land spill) – 88 million gallons
• 1993: Nowruz Field Platform – Persian Gulf – 80 million gallons
• 1991: ABT Summer – Atlantic Ocean (near Angola) – 80 million gallons
• 1983: Castillo de Bellver – Saldanha Bay, South Africa – 79 million gallons
• 1978: Amoco Cadiz – English Channel – 69 million gallons
• 1988: Odyssey – North Sea (Nova Scotia) – 43 million gallons

World's Largest Oil Spills

The Exxon Valdez does not even make this list based on quantity of oil spilled, however, the environmental impact was by far the most damaging of all time affecting more than 1100 miles of coastline.

Minimum Wage in 2014

Minimum WageIn President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address, minimum wage was once again a hot topic. Obama urged local leaders not to wait for Congress to act, but rather to take matters in their own hands and raise the minimum wage to $10.10, well above the current $7.25 federal minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

In December 2011, we published a minimum wage post highlighting eight states raising their minimum wage as of Jan. 1, 2012, along with a tally of how the states stacked up against the federal minimum. Since that time, minimum wage increases have continued to occur across several states, many of them the ten states that adjust the rate annually, based on the Consumer Price Index, to account for inflation. Here is how the state counts stack up from 2011 to 2014.

State vs Fed Min Wage 2014 Table

For a complete table by state for the years 2011 through 2014 click here.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Labor has an interactive map for tracking the minimum wage in each state as well as other U.S. jurisdictions, as shown in the image below.

Minimum Wage Map 2014

While the great debate rages on about the pros and cons of raising the minimum wage, there is plenty of evidence that the impact of increasing wages effects many aspects of the economy. It puts extra dollars in consumers’ pockets which historically leads to increased consumer spending which leads to job creation. Wage increases stimulate local economies. At the same time, higher wages also impact small businesses that rely on a minimum wage workforce and cannot directly absorb the wage hikes without passing costs on to consumers or reducing workforce.

How will these changes affect your business? How will these changes affect your sales and territory management strategy? It’s important to take income and wage metrics into account when making decisions for 2014 and beyond. Our GeoMetrx mapping software has a wealth of demographic data that can help you map your success. If you’d like to learn more, let us know.

Floral Industry – Valentine’s Day Roses

Flower ArrangingOn this day of love, the floral industry is blooming! According to (International Floral Organisation), 25% of adults in the U.S. purchased flowers or plants as gifts for Valentine’s Day in 2013. Men outpaced women 2 to 1 on this holiday (64% vs. 36%, respectively). Similar sales levels are expected in 2014.

Men give flowers mostly as a romantic gesture, while women are more likely to give flowers as a sign of caring to their daughters, mothers and friends. Not surprisingly, red roses are the most popular selection. The estimated number of roses produced for Valentine’s Day in 2013 was 233 million.

VDay Flower Type

If you have a desire to be in business for yourself and you have a passion for flowers and floral arranging, this may just be the industry for you. The floral industry has very low barriers to entry. No special education, training or experience is necessary. Start-up costs are relatively low and many begin as a home business providing flowers for weddings and other special occasions. Christmas is the biggest holiday for flowers, followed by Mother’s Day.

Floral Holidays

When opening a florist shop, location is essential to success. It’s important to locate your shop in a high-traffic area, with high visibility. Additionally, fast and efficient delivery is a must. Many florists are either part of a larger, national franchise or are members of a florist association which provides a national delivery network. It is estimated that as much as 25% of floral sales are from people ordering flowers outside the service area of their local shop.

In Philadelphia, the U.S. “City of ‘Brotherly’ Love,” we’ve plotted the location of florist shops (shown below). Combining this information with our demographics, business, and trade area data, including travel time, allows us to help with location analysis as well as franchise territory management through the use of our powerful GeoMetrx mapping software. Contact us today for more information at 1.888.848.4436.



2014 Franchise 500 Ranking

5 StarsThe 35th annual Franchise 500, compiled by  reveals the top performers in franchising for 2014. Jumping to the number one spot is Anytime Fitness, a 24-hour gym franchise. The company was ranked #6 in 2013, a remarkable climb considering it first opened its doors in 2002. Based in Minneapolis, the company now has nearly 2,500 units, and boasts 1.9 million members. Over the next 5 years, another 1,500 units are expected to open. The average start-up costs range from $56K-350K.

The top 10 franchises, including average start-up costs are shown in the table below.

2014 Franchise 500 Top 10

The economic outlook for franchising in 2014 is strong, with the IFA expecting the number of franchise establishments to increase by 1.7% in the United States, reaching an estimated 770,368. Having the right tools to maximize territories for new establishments is a key strategy for success. If you’d like to learn more about our territory mapping software, we’re here to help.

Meal Preparation: “Don’t Have Time” Heat Map – Service Franchise Opportunity

Meal Preparation: “Don’t Have Time”

Busy MomAs a society, time is a commodity of which we never seem to have enough. One of the casualties of lack of time is the shrinking number of families spending time together around the dinner table enjoying homemade meals. Meal preparation businesses are growing in popularity to fill this gap in our lives.

The map below depicts the number of people (Adult Pop 18+, 2013), by county, that have reported they “do not have the time to prepare and eat a healthy meal.” The amount of people in this situation increases from light yellow to dark blue. This is just one of many attitudinal and behavioral data sets available within  our GeoMetrx mapping application.

Combining such data along with demographics and a view of the  competitive landscape is an extremely useful resource for determining market potential. GeoMetrx has a rich database of all three data types.​

2013.12 Meal Preparation No TimeClick here to see a larger version of this map

GeoMetrx has the tools you need to assess the opportunities, locate the ideal site location, and evaluate the competition. For more information on how to obtain access to GeoMetrx tools and datasets, contact us today at 1.888.848.4436.

Meal Preparation Business – A Recipe for Success

Meal Preparation Business – A Recipe for Success

Family MealThe holidays are once again upon us and our busy factor is in overdrive! With the exception of a big holiday meal, we often find ourselves sacrificing time spent with our families around the dinner table. Studies show there are many great benefits of eating together, such as bonding through conversation, teaching children good manners, and more.

 “The family who eats together, stays together” 

A growing trend helping families reclaim time at the table is the meal preparation segment of the food industry. Meal preparation services come in many forms for those who lack the time to shop and prepare dinner each night. While meal preparation businesses may vary Food Preparationin the individual services provided, they all have in common the opportunity for families to purchase homemade meals, whether they will be consumed within several days or frozen for future use. Services range from simply providing the ingredients and work space, which allows customers to assemble their own meals, to preparing entire meals that only require reheating.

Most meal preparation businesses provide 2, 4 or 6 serving meals. Customers can typically purchase a single meal or enough for several weeks at one time. Many of these businesses are taking advantage of the web and allowing their customers to make appointments and order online, which has the added advantage of improved resource allocation and inventory control. Some of the services a meal preparation business may provide include:

  • Recipe creation
  • Menu planning
  • Ingredient preparation
  • Customer workspace
  • Full meal preparation
  • Meal delivery

Homemade MealMany of these services start out as home businesses, with the sole proprietor working out of their own family kitchen, and eventually expanding to a commercial kitchen as the business grows. A successful meal preparation business can easily become a franchise opportunity, as well, for a small business owner. In fact, it is likely the best recipe for success in this market segment as a single meal preparation business location will eventually be limited by its geographical reach.

If you enjoy food and working with others, starting a meal preparation business may be just the right small business choice. At GeoMetrx, our sales and franchise territory alignment application is the right tool to help you start a business or grow an existing business. In addition to managing your business territories, our service can provide an in-depth location and demographic analysis, market opportunity, and a view of the competitive landscape. Call us at 1.888.848.4436 or visit us on the web to request a demo today.

Home Decor – An Improving Market

Home Decor – An ‘Improving’ Market

Home Decor StorefrontWhat many are now calling the ‘Great Recession’ that began in earnest in late 2008, continues to have far-reaching affects on the US and world economies. Signs of recovery are evident in many sectors, including the home decor market, which is ‘improving’ (pun intended!). The improvement is partially in response to the lagging housing market.

Along with many other industries and markets, the US housing market continues to show signs of recovery, yet it is far from what could be considered a full recovery. The number of overall existing home sales is up in 2013, vs. 2012, but the most recent report (Sept. 2013 data) showed a slight reduction in the number of sales over the previous month. Levels are still well below pre-recession activity:

Existing Home Sales Chart

Many Americans have changed their long term outlook on home ownership, and remodeling our current homes rather than upgrading to larger homes has never been more popular. Families are choosing to stay put and rework the spaces they already have. Home DIY Wall Paperingimprovement is something people have long enjoyed, but the desire to stretch our dollars further, combined with a bent for living a more sustainable lifestyle has pumped new life and energy into both the home improvement industry and home décor market. The home décor market, estimated to be a $65.2 billion annual segment, continues to thrive.

Fueled by the popularity of do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement television shows, people are tapping into their own creativity to maximize and customize their living spaces.  Home improvement, home décor and home furnishing stores have been experiencing tremendous growth in the last decade. In addition to the change in home ownership attitude, another major factor contributing to the Paint Supply Setsuccess of many of these businesses is improved products and marketing, particularly pre-packaged kits with all the needed supplies bundled together. These kits make it easy for inexperienced homeowners to be successful in their projects, and much less frustrated!

As homeowners remodel and update existing spaces, they often choose to refurnish and accessorize these rooms with brand new items to match their freshly painted walls and gleaming new floors. This trend is being reflected through increased sales for home furnishing and home décor stores. Ready-made and attractive decorative accessories are very popular, and homeowners can mix and match pieces together to make unique and affordable spaces. Many direct sales home decor businesses have been booming as well such as PartyLite, Celebrating Home and Rendi, to name a few. These businesses have very easy entrance points for sole proprietors.

Many home furnishing stores are franchises, so whether you are interested in becoming a franchisee of an existing business or starting up your own chain of stores to franchise, GeoMetrx can provide an in-depth location analysis including an understanding of the competitive landscape. Call us at 1.888.848.4436 or visit us on the web to request a demo today.

New Beach Front Property? If all the ice melted…

When it comes to global warming, or rather the new, more PC term, climate change, there is one main theme – rising temperatures of both land and sea. While the debate rages on whether this threat is real or perceived, or whether it’s human induced or a natural geological cycle, one thing is certain, the earth is changing. But then it always has been and likely always will,  and this keeps our scientists very busy indeed!

In the September 2013 issue of National Geographic, a map was created in response to the question many of us have asked in recent years – “What if all the ice melted?” Well, for starters, the sea would rise an estimated 216 feet, and the most dramatic effect in the U.S. can be observed in Florida… er, wait, there would be NO Florida!!! Along with that, we would lose much of the rest of the Gulf Coast, as well as the entire Atlantic seaboard, San Diego, and more.

If All the Ice Melted - US


But before those of us slightly inland from our current shorelines reassess our property values, it’s going to take awhile to melt the more than five million cubic miles of ice on Earth. According to National Geographic, “some scientists say it would take more than 5,000 years to melt it all. If we continue adding carbon to the atmosphere, we’ll very likely create an ice-free planet, with an average temperature of perhaps 80 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the current 58.” To see more, click on this link, or on the map above to view the affect on each of the continents.

Hurricane, Typhoon, or Cyclone? Location, Location, Location!

Philippines Map Haiyan

Weather around the world continues to be wild and unpredictable. Our hearts go out to everyone in the Philippines affected by super-Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) that made landfall on Nov. 8, 2013. The death toll has reached 4,000 and continues to climb. An estimated 9 to 13 million people have been affected by the storm in 44 provinces, 536 municipalities and 55 cities. The hardest hit city was Tacloban on the island of Leyte. The storm is one of the most powerful ever recorded.

The Western Pacific has the highest frequency of tropical cyclones (typhoons) north of the equator and experts fear more storms of similar magnitude are likely in the future. According to the Asian Development Bank, while the average number of cyclones per year has not risen significantly, the severity of individual events has increased due to rising temperatures of both the air and sea. The impact of damage from storm surge has increased as well given rising sea levels in the region.

In the aftermath, and from halfway around the world, my daughter asked what exactly was a typhoon. I explained to her it was just a different name for a hurricane, which got me to thinking, why are they different, and how does one know? I went searching for answers and found this graphic from David Simmer II’s Blography site.

TropicalStormNameMapDavid had this to say about his map: “It’s not a perfect map, of course… but it basically boils down like this: Historical British colonial regions like India and Australia use “Cyclone.” The Americas use “Hurricane.” Asia uses “Typhoon.” There are variations on all those. And, of course, local languages have many different names in their native tongues.”  The NOAA defines the location of these storms similarly: “In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term “hurricane” is used; a similar disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a “typhoon” and “cyclones” occur in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.”

All these storms are initially referred to as tropical storms once winds reach a sustained 39 mph. The tropical storms are then given an actual name by the World Meteorological Organization, using forenames familiar in each region. The Philippines has its own naming system as well, hence Haiyan to the world, and Yolanda locally. Tropical storms become either a hurricane, typhoon or cyclone when winds reach a sustained 74 mph. As the storms escalate they can range from Category 1 (weakest) to Category 5 (strongest), except in Australia which has its own system for categorizing strength.

But back to the question… Why the different names (hurricane, typhoon, cyclone) for these storms? Well, it comes down to the same thing: location, or more precisely the regional influence on the local language. In a nutshell, here is the basic etymology of the three storms from

Hurricane – Spanish (1545-55) huracán, and the Taino (an extinct Arawakan Indian tribe of the West Indies) hurakán 

Typhoon – Chinese (1580-90); akin to Chinese dàfēng, meaning great wind; altered by association with Greek typhôn, meaning violent wind.

Cyclone – introduced by British meteorologist Henry Piddington in 1848, perhaps from the Greek kyklôn, meaning revolving, and apparently confused by Piddington with kýklōma, meaning wheel or snake’s coil

While these storms are the same in cause and nature, there are some other interesting differences among hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones:

hurricane – The direction of the rotation of the storm depends on whether they occur north or south of the equator – clockwise if north and counter-clockwise if south.

– Seasons vary by location with the Atlantic and central Pacific hurricane season ranging from May to November; the south Pacific and Australia cyclone season ranging from November to April; and the northwestern Pacific typhoon season ranging nearly year-round.

– Frequency of northwest Pacific typhoons is the greatest with an average of 27 storms per season, while the average number of Atlantic hurricanes per season is 11.

No matter what you call them or where they occur, these storms can pack a real punch and are very dangerous. The power of Mother Nature is awesome and should never be underestimated.