A recent study provides some detailed insights about just how far consumers are willing to travel to access different types of retail offerings. This study surveyed more than 800 consumers and focused on 13 different retail categories.

The results revealed that people will drive 16 minutes to get to a general store but only 12 minutes to access their gym or yoga studio. They are willing to travel farther to find a wedding retailer (23 minutes) or medical provider, such as a dentist or doctor (21 minutes). In addition, shoppers will drive 20 minutes to get to a clothing retailer but only 14 minutes to visit their hairdresser. The overall average drive time was 17 minutes.

The study also noted some demographic effects on drive time choices. Although most of these distances did not vary by age, younger customers did express a greater willingness to travel farther to wedding-related stores, whereas older ones would drive more miles to visit their accountant. In contrast, women consistently expressed willingness to go farther to meet their retail needs, such as 5 more minutes to visit a hair salon or 3 more minutes to get to a yoga class, compared with their male counterparts.

Although people residing in more rural or remote areas obviously tended to drive farther to access all the categories of retailers, this study suggests that retailers’ attraction might not be as strong as many of them assume it is. There are some exceptions though: Bass Pro Shops claims that its customers drive an average of more than 50 miles to get to one of its fun, experiential locations.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why are people willing to spend more time driving to a destination store like Bass Pro than to a convenience/general store?
  2. How can retailers use this information to define their trade areas?
  3. How would this information be used to define the parameters of Huff’s model?


Source: Tom Ryan, Retail Wire, June 2, 2014