Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Thursday, May 04, 2006

BLOCKBUSTER: No SuperWalMart Study Puts Knife in PARD’s Heart!!!!

First, two indisputable facts:

FACT: PARD and No SuperWalMart are allies, as demonstrated by PARD holding a "seminar" for the No SuperWalMart group as they first got started last November, links on each other's websites, and lately, mutually supportive letters to the editor.

FACT: PARD has consistently claimed that the economic impact study of a Pullman Wal-Mart Supercenter conducted by Johnson Gardner is biased and invalid because CLC Associates (the Wal-Mart developer) hired Johnson Gardner.

Hold on to your hats.

No SuperWalMart retained Community Land Use and Economics (CLUE) Group of Arlington, VA to prepare a Retail Demand Study for the Moscow/Pullman area and presented the findings to the Moscow City Council Monday night as evidence against the proposed rezone of the Thompson annexation to motor business for a planned Moscow Supercenter.

I don't think anyone, therefore, would regard the findings of the CLUE study as being biased towards Wal-Mart.

So what did the CLUE study reveal with regards to Pullman?:
  • Moscow is clearly the strongest retail center in the Moscow/Pullman region, attracting an average of $13,288 in per capita retail/restaurant sales, versus $6,505 in Pullman and $2,057 in the balance of Latah County. Lewiston has $18, 314 in per capita sales and Clarkston has $21,505.

  • Pullman, however, is experiencing sales leakages in almost all major retail categories, including a leakage of $4.0 million in groceries, $7.6 million in furniture/home furnishings, $9.6 million in apparel, and $1.3 million in pharmaceuticals/medical supplies (the only major retail category in which Pullman is experiencing a sales surplus is dining out).

  • While it is impossible to state with certainty without conducting consumer surveys where Pullman's residents currently shop for various things, it is highly likely, given Moscow's high per capita sales performance relative to Pullman's and the region's relatively isolated location, that Pullman residents often shop in Moscow for groceries and other consumer staples.

  • Moscow's population is expected to grow 7.3 percent by 2010, with the combined populations of Latah and Whitman Counties expected to grow by 13 percent.

  • This will result in new market demand in major retail categories of approximately $25.7 million (expressed in current-year dollars) in Moscow/Latah County and $29.4 million in new demand in Pullman/Whitman County by 2010.

  • Pullman is currently experiencing sales leakages in most major retail categories.

  • As a whole, the Moscow/Pullman area is adequately supplied with retail space, with sales surpluses in Moscow more or less offsetting sales leakages in Pullman.

  • The 223,000 square foot Wal-Mart Supercenter that has been proposed to be built in Pullman will attract approximately $100 million in sales - roughly the equivalent of all current sales in major retail categories in Pullman - according to Wal-Mart's current national sales averages. This will have an enormous impact on retail activity in the region - in Pullman, in particular, but also in Moscow, as some sales currently being captured by Moscow businesses will almost certainly gravitate to the new Wal-Mart Supercenter. Grocery sales are particularly vulnerable, as the proposed Supercenter will likely capture approximately $35 million in area grocery sales.

  • Although retail sales in Moscow will almost certainly be negatively affected by the proposed Pullman Wal-Mart Supercenter if it is built, this impact cannot be corrected by construction of yet another discount superstore, supercenter, or warehouse club in Moscow. Doing so would simply add additional square footage to a region in which there is unlikely to be significant new retail demand for at least a decade.
  • So a study funded by an ANTI-Wal-Mart group has just verified what Johnson Gardner found. Pullman is suffering tremendous retail sales leakage and a Pullman Wal-Mart Supercenter will bring in $100 million in annual sales.

    And saying "sales surpluses in Moscow more or less offsetting sales leakages in Pullman" is not the answer for the people of Pullman! Why? From an article in yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:

    The city had to cut $575,000 from its 2006 budget and still expects to end the year with a $1 million deficit that will be funded out of cash reserves, said City Supervisor John Sherman.

    Sherman and Woo are approaching the 2007 budget with “potential cautious optimism,” Sherman said. Building permit figures for January through April are significantly ahead of the same time last year, and 2005 was a record-breaking year for building permits.

    “Once again we can thank Ed Schweitzer for that,” Sherman said. Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories started two major construction projects this year that have helped boost building permit numbers.

    But Sherman and Woo don’t know if the pace of construction will stay steady. The city may be looking at a tough year in 2007. Projections of a deficit in Olympia don’t help matters, they said.
    There you go PARDners. You are appealing to the Superior Court in part based on the lack of an economic impact study. Now you have a study from an INDEPENDENT source NOT CONNECTED with Wal-Mart, covering the entire Palouse region, that verfies Johnson Gardner's study. GIVE UP YOUR APPEAL NOW FOR THE GOOD OF PULLMAN!

    I urge everyone to immediately write a letter to the editor using the results of this study to urge PARD to to give up. It is clear now that Pullman needs Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart WILL be beneficial for Pullman.

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