Alabama retail researcher to review Brunswick County

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By Brian Slattery

The Brunswick County Economic Development Commission found the company it wants to handle a retail study of the county.

Jim Bradshaw, the EDC’s executive director, said Retail Strategies of Birmingham, Ala., will perform the study.

According to its website, Retail Strategies uses in-depth market research to identify retail gaps, demographic trends, consumer behavior and attitudes, and opportunities for new retail recruitment in their studies.

The market study is intended to learn why retail companies that typically build in Wilmington and Myrtle Beach, S.C., won’t come to Brunswick County but instead expect Brunswick shoppers to come to them.

Bradshaw said despite a population of 120,000, Brunswick County only has one large department store, Belk in Shallotte, and one medium-sized department store, Peebles near Southport. But he said discussions with major retailers indicate they are impressed with the county’s growth, which was recently reported as fastest in the state.

Bradshaw said the study will begin in May and should be completed by late October or November.

“They will look at the whole county to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses to recruit retail companies,” he said.

Bradshaw said the company will have to look at the two sides to Brunswick County: the north end, where there is increased population but not a lot of space available for retail business, and the southern end, where there is a lot of retail space but too much of it is unoccupied.

“They will talk to retail companies that are not here to find out what it takes to get them here,” he said.

Some of the retail chains in Brunswick County show their highest sales per square foot, and Bradshaw said he wants to put that information to use in recruiting more retail companies. He said he will also ask the study providers to talk with local developers about what they need.

The EDC primarily focuses on drawing industries to the area, Bradshaw said, but all business growth is good growth.

He said the EDC will use money from the private sector for the marketing project while money it receives from taxpayers goes toward finding jobs for Brunswick County’s citizens.

Brian Slattery is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach him at 754-6890 or bslattery@brunswickbeacon.com.