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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.

Painting Industry – Looking Brighter

Painting Industry – Looking Brighter

Paint BrushThe painting industry includes businesses primarily involved in applying paint, special coatings and wall coverings to the interiors and exteriors of buildings for both residential and non-residential customers.  As such, the industry is closely tied with overall trends in home improvement and the construction industry. The past five years have been difficult for most businesses and individuals.

The housing market has been especially hard hit and the effects have rippled through many supporting industries. While the home improvement industry has seen growth (see our post from December 2013), the construction industry has been suffering due to low demand for new housing, and commercial space. However, both residential and non-residential construction is beginning to regain strength, leading to more work for painters and other contractors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of painters is projected to grow 20 percent (faster than average) from 2012 to 2022. 

Painting the exterior of homes and commercial buildings needs to be done regularly. Exterior paint has a relatively short life span, and many experts recommend repainting at least every five years, particularly to preserve wood siding. Changing trends in colors, both House Paintinginterior and exterior also continue to fuel demand for painting contractors. While there are a great many do-it-yourselfers, there are also a considerable number of folks who’d much rather hire the work done, especially as more Americans return to the work force and disposable incomes increase.

The majority of paint contracting companies are sole proprietorships, often with five employees or less. There are several major painting franchise players in the market as well. Most notable are:

The strong forecast for recovery in both the housing market and construction industry over the next five years is good news for the painting industry. Opportunities for small businesses to expand as well as enter the franchise market also will continue to increase.

Below are two heat maps generated from our GeoMetrx territory mapping application. The first heat map displays the concentration, by county, of homes with repainted exteriors in the last year. The second heat map displays the concentration of those who hired a professional painter or other individual to do the work.

Exterior Painting - House Painted Last Year

Exterior Painting - Professional or Other - House Painted Last Year

Additional data resources available at GeoMetrx include housing types (single family, multiple dwellings, etc.), demographics, competitive intelligence and more. Mapping this data along with our own proprietary customer data is a strong aid in developing your strategy to grow your business. To learn more about how GeoMetrx can help your painting business map its success, call today at 1.888.848.4436 or request a free demo online. Let our experts help you make the most of your business concept.

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.



Median Income vs. Median Rent Heat Maps

Median Income vs. Median Rent Heat Maps – business site location analysis tools

Income Rent BalanceWe hear a lot about the real estate market these days and how fluctuating costs are impacting local economies. If your business relies on minimum wage employees, for example, it will be more difficult to maintain a workforce if located in an area with high rents. Likewise, your business needs to be accessible to consumers who can afford your products or services. Furthermore, locating your business in a debt-strapped area could suppress earnings potential.

Kwelia, a company that provides competitive intelligence for the real estate market has created an interactive online heat mapping service at the census tract level. The heat maps allow you to quickly visualize median income, median rent per sq/ft., and most importantly, the combined effect of median rent as a percentage of median income. The maps are available for nearly every metro market in the U.S.

Showcased below is the median income / median rent for the southern portion of the Silicon Valley. The highlighted track (pointing cursor) includes Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, CA. The median rental share of income in this region is a comfortable 16.6%. San Joaquin Valley to the east, on the other hand, at 46.2%, leaves residents with much less disposable income.

Median Income:



Median Rent/sq.ft.



Median Rental Share of Income



We’ve zoomed in on this same area and applied our GeoMetrx 2013 household income by census tract with an overlay of the top computer and electronic product manufacturers (annual sales over $1 million). You can see there is certainly a lot of competition for well-qualified employees which draws talent to the area and keeps salary levels (e.g. income levels) competitive as well. There is a symbiotic relationship between business activity and the real estate market. However, as the balance shifts between these two forces, the impact can be enormous as we saw in 2008, and the years following as the real estate market has struggled to regain its footing amid the long-running economic downturn.

2013 Median HH Income by Census Tract -- Top Computer & Electronic Product Manufacturers (NAICS 3341)w/Sales $1MM+Source:

2013 Median HH Income by Census Tract —
Top Computer & Electronic Product Manufacturers (NAICS 3341)w/Sales $1MM+

For a complete retail site selection analysis, consumer profiling and/or market analysis, our GeoMetrx web-based mapping software is loaded with rich demographic data, competitive business data and much more. If you are planning to start a new business, open additional offices or retail locations, or expand your franchise offerings, GeoMetrx can help maximize your decision making portfolio. Call us at 1.888.848.4436 for more information or request a custom demo today.

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.

Climate Data – Particulate Matter Index

Climate Data: Particulate Matter Index

Location – Location – Location; the age-old advice when opening a business is just as true today as it has ever been. There are many factors to take into consideration from property accessibility to a well-matched customer base to operating costs and more. Additionally, environmental conditions and regulations can also play a significant role when making location decisions.

If you have an outdoor business concept, your customers and employees can be impacted by air pollution. Our climate dataset includes five air pollution indexes: Carbon Monoxide; Lead; Nitrogen Dioxide; Ozone; and Particulate Matter. Below is a map of the US depicting areas of particulate matter pollution at the county level. Areas with a lower propensity for this type of pollution are shown in light yellow, while those with higher propensities are shown in dark orange.

2013.08 Particulate Matter Index

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.

Golf Industry on the Upswing

Golf Industry on the Upswing: Market Entry Opportunities

Golfing in the U.S. is estimated to be a $25 billion industry – $20 billion in greens fees, $4 billion in equipment and $1 billion in apparel sales. In addition to operating golf courses and country clubs, other industry activities include providing food and beverage services, equipment rental and instruction. Not included are driving ranges which are part of the $9 billion Golf Driving Ranges and Family Fun Centers industry, which we will highlight in a future newsletter.

As has been the case for many industries, the serious and lingering economic downturn has had an impact on the golf industry as people have cut back on discretionary and recreational spending. However, in 2012, there was a measurable rebound in the number of golf outings with golfers playing about 490 million rounds on U.S. courses, up 5.7% from 2011, according to the National Golf Foundation. Industry analysts estimate that U.S. golf course revenues will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.75% by 2016.

Successful companies in the industry are those who drive up demand through strong marketing and maintain efficient operations as many costs are fixed, whether players are on the fairways or not. Some of the most successful US companies include American Golf, ClubCorp, Evergreen Alliance, and KemperSports. Small companies can be successful as well using location and unique marketing strategies to their advantage.

There are approximately 15,500 golf facilities in the US, both public and private. Nearly three-fourths are public courses, and of those about 20% or, 2,450, are municipal courses. Much of the revenue for private courses is generated from annual membership dues, while public courses rely mainly on “daily fees.” While the total number of golf courses has dropped from its all-time high of 16,000 set in 2004, IBISWorld reports that interest in golf continues to grow.

In order for the golf industry to remain strong, the sport must not only continue to appeal to the retiring baby-boomer generation, it must also engage young new players. Creating affordable entry points for players, especially juniors, is a must. One group doing just that is the Wadsworth Golf Charities Foundation. The organization is partnering with a variety of community and business organizations to build ‘feeder short courses’ of three, six or nine holes.

Golf courses come in many different sizes and settings, offering a variety of price point opportunities for market entry.


  • 18 hole: standard, full-size course with a mix of par 3,4 and 5 holes
  • 9 hole: half a standard course with a mix of par 3, 4 and 5 holes
  • Executive: 9 or 18 holes, shorter than standard course, with more par 3 and fewer par 4 and 5 holes
  • Par 3: 9 or 18 holes, shorter than an executive course, with all par 3 holes
  • Approach or “Pitch and Putt”: 30-40yd length holes used by players to practice pitching and chipping and by beginners (drop a ball, pitch it to the green and putt it in)


  • Links course: built on sandy coastlines, open to the wind, few trees, natural watering of rough and fairways, fast fairways, slow greens, large and deep bunkers
  • Parkland course: typically located inland, built in park like atmosphere, plenty of trees, manicured fairways, fast greens
  • Desert course: built in the desert, tees, fairways and greens are lush, but often the only grass in the area

Source: guide

For any current or prospective business owners interested in the golf industry, GeoMetrx can provide an in-depth site location analysis including demographic, income and traffic data as well as a view of the competitive landscape. Call us at 1.888.848.4436 or visit us on the web to request a demo today.

The Winning Ticket – State Lotteries are Big Business for Authorized Retailers

The Winning Ticket
State Lotteries are Big Business for Authorized Retailers

If you saw the 1998 movie “Waking Ned Devine,” you’ll never forget the opening scene when poor Ned dies of shock with a smile on his face and the winning lottery ticket firmly grasped in his hand. The remainder of the movie is filled with the hilarious high jinks of his fellow townsfolk as they attempt to claim the money.

We all dream of that magical moment when all five little white ping-pong sized balls match our numbers and then, to our absolute amazement, the red Powerball (or gold Mega Millions ball)  pops up and matches too!!! And that’s exactly what happened in Florida earlier this month for the lucky ticket holder of the one winning ticket sold at a Publix grocery store in the highest Powerball jackpot in history; an estimated $590.5 million. The winner can take an annual annuity payment over 30 years for the $590.5 million, or a one-time cash payment of approximately $370 million (the present value of the installment payments). In addition, the retailer where the winning ticket was sold will also receive an $85,000 bonus commission. The ticket holder hasn’t come forward yet to claim the prize; let’s hope they are more fortunate than poor Ned Divine!

The 43 states where lotteries were legal in 2012 earned more than $19 billion in profit from lottery ticket sales of nearly $68.8 billion. Authorized lottery retailers earn commissions and bonuses worth an estimated 4% of annual ticket sales. Business establishments such as convenience stores, grocery stores, drug stores, bowling alleys, sports bars, and even hotels are excellent locations for lottery retailers. Lottery retailers often experience increased foot traffic and higher revenues as result of being lottery locations as well. These businesses share the following ideal attributes:

  • Location has high in-store traffic;
  • Discretionary income or impulse products are sold at the location; and
  • Point-of-purchase materials are prominently displayed to build product awareness

​There are 6 states that do not have lotteries of any kind. The other 44 states (Wyoming passed a bill to allow for a lottery starting in the summer of 2013), has its own lottery board, rules and regulations and game offerings. In addition, there are two large multi-state lotteries organizations which administer Mega Millions and Powerball in 45 jurisdictions (soon to be 46). The Mega Millions Consortium is operated by 12 states and the Multi-State Lottery Association (MUSL), which oversees Powerball, is owned and operated by 31 states, Washington D.C. and the US Virgin Islands.

Prior to 2010, retailers could only sell tickets for the multi-state lottery of which their state was a member. Since 2010, the two organizations signed an agreement to allow cross-sales in one another’s jurisdictions. Together, Powerball and Mega Millions offer jackpot lovers the chance to play four times a week with Powerball drawings on Wednesdays and Saturdays and Mega Millions drawings on Tuesdays and Fridays.

On January 15, 2012, the cost of a Powerball ticket increased from $1 to $2. There was much speculation how the increase would affect ticket sales, with some believing players would simply cut their play in half. However, the response has been positive and five of the biggest jackpots have occurred since the increase.

For any current or prospective business owners interested in becoming an authorized lottery retailer, GeoMetrx can provide an in-depth site location analysis including demographic, income and traffic data as well as a view of the competitive landscape. Call us at 1.888.848.4436 or visit us on the web to request a demo today.

Where are the Microbrewers?

Last year we published the blog post below showcasing our data mapping in response to the question: Where are the Beer Drinkers? 

We’d like to update our post with a great map that was created to showcase the abundance of Microbrewers around the U.S. from the great folks at in celebration of American Craft Beer Week celebrated earlier this month.

Where are the Microbrewers?

Data Mapping: Where are the Beer Drinkers? 

In recognition of the merry month of March, including the onset of Spring, NCAA March Madness and the good ol’ Irish St. Patrick’s day celebration, our thematic map is dedicated to beer!

We have plotted domestic beer drinkers across the nation.The light colored areas (think light beer) have the lowest concentration of domestic beer drinkers, whereas the darker (think stouts) represent the areas with the highest concentration of domestic beer drinkers.

Click to see a larger version of this map.

​Next we plotted the percent of micro-brewed beer drinkers across the US. When contrasting the two maps there is more than meets the eye. One might conlcude that dark areas on the domestic map that are now light on the micro-brew map would indicate folks in those locations prefer national domestics to local micro-brews. We would suggest the difference is actually due to the lack of availability of micro-brews. In fact, the dark areas on the micro-brew map align with regions that sport a lot of micro-brew activity.

Click to see a larger version of this map.

A great website, The Beer Mapping Project, is a compilation of locations of micro-breweries, brewpubs and other craft beer outlets. Accessing the site’s regional maps, we’ve taken a closer look at three areas where there is clearly a difference between our domestic and microbrew maps: north central Michigan, south central Florida, and the greater Denver, Colorado corridor. The three maps, shown below, reveal that in Michigan and Florida, there is a complete absence of micro-breweries and brew pubs in the disparate areas. The Denver corridor, on the other hand, shows a comparitively high volume of craft beer activity.

As we noted in our previous post, expanding into new markets is an excellent way to increase sales of exisiting products and services. It’s essential to conduct thorough market research which includes identifying markets with heavy concentrations of potential customers who fit your company’s target profile. As this example illustrates, it’s important to consider many factors and utilize all your resources of information to find the best new markets.

“If you build it, ‘they’ will come.”

Tax Preparation – A Year-Round Opportunity

Tax Preparation – A Year-Round Opportunity

Many tax preparation specialists, as well as other tax professionals, offer year-round services including tax debt settlement, tax resolutions, audit assistance, bookkeeping, record keeping, financial advice and consultation, tax education, payroll services and more.

Tax professionals are dedicated to the challenge of keeping up with the tax code and informing their clients of important changes that need to be addressed throughout the year, rather than simply focusing on January 1st through April 15th only. Tax code changes often affect the way individuals and businesses need to operate throughout the year in order to minimize the tax liability they will incur. And as the tax code continues to become increasingly complex, the demand for tax preparation professionals continues to grow as well.

Whether you are interested in opening a sole proprietorship, becoming part of an existing franchise or creating a new franchise, at GeoMetrx we have the tools you need to assess the opportunities, locate the ideal site location, and create, evaluate and align territories. Additionally, we have an exhaustive list of Business Establishment datasets by NAICS code including the one depicted below displaying the concentration of Accounting / Tax Preparation / Bookkeeping and Payroll Services businesses.  Each red dot represents 25 establishments within that geographical region.

For more information on how to obtain access to GeoMetrx datasets, contact us today at 1.888.848.4436.