Among statistical markers for how well a city is doing in its retail trade is a measure called the “City Trade Pull Factor.” And in Kansas, Merriam is at the top of the list – by a long shot.
Far more than any other city in the state, Merriam is pulling in sales tax and retail trade that far-outstrips its size in terms of population. In fact, Merriam’s pull factor is a multiple of every other city in Kansas.
The City Trade Pull Factor is a measure that takes the sales tax collected in a city and divides it by the population. That number is divided by the total sales tax per capita for the entire state which yields a ratio.
If a city’s pull factor is 1.0, according to the Kansas Department of Revenue, then the city has a perfect balance of trade: “The purchases of city residents who shop elsewhere are offset by the purchases of out-of-city customers.” In Merriam that pull factor number for the last reporting period is 4.67. Close to five times as much retail trade is coming into the city as is going out by Merriam residents shopping elsewhere.
“(Pull factor) values greater than 1.00 indicates that local businesses are pulling in trade from beyond their home city border. Thus, the balance of trade is favorable.” That is how the Merriam situation is described by the department.
To put the strength of the Merriam retail market in perspective, no other city in the state had a pull factor that reached 2.0. The annual report only measures cities of the first class, those over 10,000 in population or those that are major retail centers for their counties. So, cities such as Mission or Roeland Park do not appear on the list.
In fiscal 2015, Overland Park hit 1.42, Prairie Village was at .7, Leawood at 1.33, Lenexa at 1.64 and Shawnee had .96.
The Merriam factor has been rising in recent years to reach its 2015 peak. Merriam City Administrator Phil Lammers said the addition of several car dealerships influenced that increase. The city already had a solid retail base at Merriam Town Center, then was fortunate to pull in at least four new auto dealerships in recent years and now the new IKEA store.
Any impact of IKEA, though, is minimal in the 2015 report which would only include a few months of IKEA operation.