With a population exceeding 12,000, Irondale is adjacent to the municipalities of Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Trussville, Leeds, Hoover and other local metropolitan Birmingham communities, where retail merchants who are located in the City of Irondale have access to a broad range of consumers with considerable buying potential who could be attracted to destination retail establishments in Irondale. A destination retail establishment is one that is sufficiently unique and special in nature to attract shoppers not only from Irondale but also from other nearby communities.
This report includes both primary and secondary research, and focuses on the potential demand for retail development in the selected market areas through the identification of appropriate development options. Primary research includes information from a focus group meeting and from a survey of city employees and city residents. The focus group included retail developers that are familiar with Irondale as well as representatives from the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham and the UAB School of Business. The survey was distributed to city employees and residents of each of the city council districts. Secondary research is from the U.S. Census Bureau, Site To Do Business Online market research, ESRI Business Analyst Online, InfoUSA, and the Alabama Department of Transportation.
Irondale is a relatively small community which is surrounded by successful retail developments in nearby cities such as Birmingham, Trussville, and Hoover. The survey of Irondale residents indicated that 44.3% of residents spend between $1,000 and $3,000 per month on retail, yet the vast majority (76.3%) do more than half of their shopping outside of Irondale. These facts taken together indicate that while the community has good spending potential, additional retail opportunities exist for Irondale to meet the marketplace demands of its residents.
Local Market Conditions
Retail market potential is defined by the number of persons in a market who possess sufficient income to satisfy their needs for goods and services and who are willing to spend their money in local merchants’ stores. The market for retail development in Irondale is dependent first upon the presence of consumers with wants and needs for products (goods and services) who have sufficient income to buy products for personal consumption and who are sufficiently confident and willing to spend their money at retail. The second factor that affects the potential for new retail development in Irondale is the existing base of competing retailers in Irondale and in surrounding communities that presently serve some of Irondale residents’ retail needs and demands for good and services. Irondale is surrounded by nearby municipalities that have more modernized retail shopping venues that are easily accessible via a fairly efficient transportation infrastructure. A significant portion of Irondale residents’ retail shopping is occurring outside of Irondale. The recent years losses of a Wal-Mart Discount store and a Food World grocery store, in addition to the relocations of several retailers from the City, have been damaging to the community’s retail infrastructure. Even if residents prefer to shop for some common categories of goods in the Irondale community, no retailers are located within the community to meet those residents’ needs. Further, Irondale shoppers are spending a significant portion of their incomes making retail purchases in surrounding municipalities and making substantial contributions through sales taxes to Jefferson County and those communities rather than to the City of Irondale.
The demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of the residents of the City of Irondale provided in this section detail the nature of the core retail market in Irondale. The trade area, illustrated on the following page, consists of all areas within the city limits. According to the most recent demographic estimates, Irondale is home to over 12,000 residents (this estimate includes recent annexations). Nearly 600 businesses are located in Irondale and employment within the city is estimated to be nearly 11,000. Of these total businesses, approximately 136 are defined as retail and service establishments and employ over 1,500 workers.