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University of Minnesota Extension

Informing retail recovery in 87 counties

After months of pandemic-inflicted financial stress, communities across Minnesota are focused on helping Main Street businesses recover. Digging into available data about these businesses can help community leaders and economic developers focus that assistance so that it makes a difference.

To assist community leaders, Extension has compiled reports on retail economies in each of Minnesota’s 87 counties. The reports look in-depth at 13 retail sectors during the most recent year that complete sales data is available — 2018. Looking at data from previous years can add the perspective of retail trends over time. Are the number of businesses in your area changing? Are your retailers experiencing an increase or decrease in sales?

Understanding your retail economy

State sales tax data gives you a sense of the strength and importance of your community’s retail and service businesses. By law, businesses must report their gross sales, taxable sales, and sales and use tax to the Minnesota Department of Revenue yearly. The Department of Revenue, in turn, publishes a full dataset for the state around 24 months after the end of the fiscal year. This high-quality dataset provides valuable information about sales and the number of businesses in 13 retail and service categories for all counties and select cities across Minnesota.

For over a decade, Extension’s community economics team has analyzed state sales tax data in ways that can help communities understand their retail sector. The common measures we use to analyze retail trade are available for all of Minnesota’s 87 counties using 2018 data, the most recent data available from the Department of Revenue.

Measuring your retail economy

Descriptive statistics — like the number of businesses by category and changes in taxable sales over the past decade — are highly relevant information to decisions you make now. Extension’s analysis will help your community put current numbers into context. Is $40 million in taxable sales in your county a sign of strength or weakness? That depends on the size of your county, your pull factors, potential sales, and your community’s performance compared to others in the state over time.

In the below video, Ryan Pesch, Extension educator, tells you what you can expect to find in your county's report.

Find your county's retail trade analysis for 2018 in the section below.


Resources for retail development

Our online resources can help you think about the future of your community's retail sector.

Need to dig deeper?

Extension's Department of Community Development is ready and available to provide you with customized retail analysis for your community. Use this analysis to gain insight into local retail development and assist in your community’s post-pandemic recovery. A custom analysis may include:

  • Retail trade analysis report by city
  • Consumer surveys
  • Trade area analysis

For more information, contact an Extension community economics educator.

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