Transforming Retail Economics of Neighborhood Development (TREND)


ESI and RW Ventures find new ways to define retail corridors and better understand neighborhood change in Chicago.

Retail corridors are among the defining features of urban neighborhoods. As a result, neighborhoods are profoundly affected by changes in the character of their commercial areas.

ESI has been working with RW Ventures in Chicago on the Transforming Retail Economics of Neighborhood Development (TREND) Project. For TREND, ESI designed a comprehensive web-based survey that collected data about Chicagoans’ shopping patterns. Participants were asked, in depth, about their last shopping trip in order to capture the who, what, where, and why’s of shopping behavior. Survey respondents used interactive maps to describe their shopping trips and provide information about their latest shopping trip, what they bought, and how they traveled. The survey also asked where respondents lived, when they moved into their neighborhood, and where they moved from in order to identify flows of people in and out of neighborhoods.

Committed to understanding all neighborhoods in Chicago, our team employed innovative, neighborhood based approaches to capture underrepresented geographies and populations in the city using community-based organizations as outlets for the survey. Overall, the survey responses reached nearly 9,000 after four months of fielding.

Using TREND shopper survey and NETS data, ESI created data driven commercial corridor definitions for Chicago and examined shopping patterns and retail trends in the corridors. Preliminary analyses also enabled ESI to assess the correlation between retail investment and neighborhood change in Chicago neighborhoods, a first step at determining the dynamic relationship between commercial and residential choices that ultimately determine the character, vitality, and sustainability of a neighborhood.

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