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Visitors’ Demographics Show Opportunity for Core City

Published on by Tim Mabe

Our recent research regarding visitors to High Point University, and also furniture shoppers and designers who come to High Point year-round, shows that the demographics of these two groups are very similar: They are affluent and well-educated, with annual household incomes that average more than $100,000. As such, they have a higher level of expectation when it comes to the services they need and the amenities they want when visiting High Point.

The statistical data related to these two groups (generally from 25 to 65 years old) demonstrates they are the consumers that High Point needs in order to support core urban development that caters to experiences that satisfy these key visitor segments. Here are some highlights of the research:

Furniture Shoppers and Designers

  • Each year High Point draws an estimated 30,000 furniture shoppers and interior designers between the April and October furniture markets.
  • Most of the showrooms they visit are located within a two- or three-block radius of Main Street at the train depot, which is the center of the core city.
  • Three out of 10 furniture buyers are 25 to 34 years old.
  • When purchases are categorized by the generation of the buyer, Millennials represent the largest age group (37%) that is buying household furniture and bedding. They spend $27 billion annually on home furnishing, according to Furniture/Today 105 Buying Trends Report.
  • Generation X accounted for 30% of households buying furniture and bedding in 2014. They spend $31.8 billion annually on home furnishing, according to Furniture/Today 105 Buying Trends Report. Their buying increased 43% between 2012 and 2014.
  • Females (68%) make most of the home furnishings buying decisions.

The data related to High Point University shows why we should consider branding High Point as a “University City” for economic development purposes.

  • Currently, HPU draws an estimated 80,000 visitors each year, including parents and relatives of students, alumni, educators/administrators from other universities, etc.
  • The University, its programs and the size of its freshman class all have grown substantially from year to year. In light of this trend, the number of annual visitors could potentially double to 160,000 by 2016.
  • The High Point University campus is located less than four blocks from the core city.
  • HPU visitors are well educated and often affluent, with household income levels that match those of shoppers who come to High Point to buy home furnishings.
  • HPU has a total enrollment of 4,400 students, from 48 states and 37 countries, who range from 17 to 22 years of age.
  • Annual tuition exceeds $42,960.
  • The highest percentage of students enrolled in private schools have a family income of more than $105,000 a year.
  • College students nationwide have a combined spending power of $417 billion.
  • Students nationwide receive an estimated $12,877 from their parents each year for living expenses.
  • Forty-five percent of all students report that their parents are their main source of income.
  • Admissions visitors to HPU tend to be 16 to 50 years old.
  • The university currently employs 280 full-time faculty.

The significant story that these numbers tell is that these visitor segments – combined – represent approximately 200,000 visitors each year, of similar age and income level, whose reason for visiting High Point takes them to an area within a short, walkable distance to the center of the core city.

Despite the presence of these consumers so close to our downtown, High Point is failing to capture most of the dollars they spend while in the area due to the core city’s current shortage of amenities that appeal to visitors, including accommodations, restaurants, entertainment, retail, etc. As a result, they choose to patronize businesses outside of the core city – and, mostly, outside of High Point in general. In large part, Greensboro ends up benefiting economically from these High Point visitors.

Clearly, we need to remedy this situation by aggressively recruiting businesses to locate in the center core, and by pursuing the development of amenities that would appeal to these key visitors. This expansion and improvement would help keep High Point visitors’ dollars – in High Point.

 

Categories: Economic Impact| Home Furnishings Capital| Promoting High Point| Tourism| Tourism Value

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