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Pull factors indicate shifts in retail biz

MBJ Editorial

A recently-published report from the Institutions of Higher Learning’s Center for Policy Research and Planning indicates shifts in the retail pull factors of Mississippi counties.

Pull factors, which measure the market influence of a county’s retail trade industry, changed most significantly from 1994 to 1998 for Tunica, +98%; Lamar, +56%; and Issaquena, +45%. Fifty counties saw decreases during this same time period with Claiborne down 23% and Itawamba losing 18%.

In the metro Jackson tri-county area, Madison dropped 14%, Rankin increased 5% and Hinds fell 2%. The three Gulf Coast counties saw Jackson at +9%, Hancock at +1% and Harrison at +6%. A few other interesting findings: Neshoba, -1%; Panola, +25%; and Washington, -7%.

Pull factors (here’s the technical definition: the ratio of a county’s retails sales to the county’s total personal income divided by the ratio of the state’s retail sales to the state’s total personal income) are interesting statistics because they offer even the most casual observer a glimpse into a core economic factor: where people are spending their money.

Certain counties are becoming regional retail centers, enjoying the benefits of increasing sales tax collections, while other counties are losing business. And according to the center’s researchers: Pull factors can be used as an indicator of economic development. An increasing pull factor is a positive sign of the county’s retail strength relative to the state. A look at the trends of pull factors aid local officials in making decisions to recruit a specific type of business to an area.

The information provided by Center for Policy Research and Planning, including this latest pull factor data, is invaluable as we put economic development hype to the numbers. Doing the math, so to speak, gives us a good idea of where Mississippi really is economically.

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