ROSWELL, Ga. — Roswell’s future for boutique hotels and restaurants looks bright, according findings from a three-year retail study by NextSite, a consulting firm hired to examine the business climate for the city.
The study, launched in 2017 by Roswell Inc, covered three years of analysis using proprietary data and information from Georgia Power. NextSite was paid $35,000 a year to track sales patterns in major retail corridors within the city. The firm has worked with numerous Southeastern communities, including Tuscaloosa, Ala.; Augusta, Ga.; and Kingsport, Tenn.
The study focuses on six specific corridors that the firm has identified as the largest shopping areas in the community.
As part of the partnership, NextSite and Roswell Inc are presenting new data at regular intervals to the public.
At a Sept. 23 Roswell City Council work session, NextSite presented the results from the current leg of the study, which tracks mobile phone data anonymously over the past year to look at where shoppers live, work and where they were located two hours prior to making a purchase.
The firm paid special attention to locations where restaurant concepts, boutique fashion apparel and grocery stores are interested in locating — Parkway Village, Downtown Roswell and East Roswell. Boutique hotels, those with about 80-100 rooms, are also another market specifically interested in Downtown Roswell and can provide a great return on investment for the city, said Roswell Inc Executive Director Steve Stroud.
NextSite used the data to identify Atlanta-area restaurant concepts that could potentially be drawn to Roswell with a first or second location, including Freddy’s Frozen Custard, Jeni’s Ice Creams and BurgerFi.
The information will help NextSite fulfill four main objectives it has outlined for the city:
Create a new baseline for Roswell
Support areas of focus identified in the Strategic Economic Development Plan
Identify ways to assist growth of existing retail and restaurants
Examine how the city supports entrepreneurial growth opportunities
NextSite Managing Partner Chuck Branch said one recent idea to come out of the study is to create a Roswell franchise development conference that could connect franchises that want to expand into the city with potential franchisees.
“There’s a lot of franchise concepts that want to be in markets like Roswell,” Branch said. “The unfortunate part of that is they need private investment. They need somebody that’s going to become that franchisee.”
Branch also spoke about potential future growth by pointing to Roswell’s recent commercial vacancy rates, which have steadily lowered since their peak at just over 16 percent in the second quarter of 2011. The current vacancy rate now sits at about 6.5 percent, based on number from 2019’s second quarter, he added.
Some big-box retailers, contrary to what people might read in the headlines, have been growing as well, both nationally and within Roswell, said NextSite Vice President of Business Development Andy Camp.
E-commerce sales, which some people fear are driving out brick-and-mortar businesses, make up about 13 percent of total sales, he said. Brick-and-mortar stores still take the lion’s share of sales at about 87 percent, Camp said.
He added that brick-and-mortar online sales, such as buying from Walmart online, have seen some of the highest recent e-commerce sales growth.
Roswell is home to some of the most aggressively expanding big box stores growing across the nation, Branch said.
Some of those stores include Ross, TJ Maxx, Hobby Lobby and Ulta.
For more information about the NextSite study and to view the full presentation, visit roswellinc.org/retail-study-updated-september-2019.