Friday, October 22, 2010

Military Big Spenders for Retailers

The Washington Retail Association, in today's online edition of Washington Information Network, reports the state is swelling with military personnel who offer retailers a significant customer base.

With 18,000 Army troops returning home this year, the military population at Joint Base Lewis-McChord has grown 45% in the past five years, from 31,000 to 45,000, the Retail Association attributed to Ken Swarner, publisher of The Fort Lewis Ranger newspaper and other publications.

They say Swarner points to Washington's Office of Financial Management statistics to show why retailers should consider military customers in their marketing plans:
  • Military payroll in the South Sound region is $1.8 billion a year. Those funds go to military bank accounts eligible for spending with retailers.
  • Pierce County has the nation's second largest concentration of military retirees, many working second jobs, who collect about $525 million a year in annual pension checks.
  • Military personnel at Joint Base Lewis-McChord account for 20% of Pierce County payrolls.
  • Lewis-McChord accounts for 14% of Pierce County's employment. In smaller counties, it accounts for far more: 68%in Island County, home of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and 36% of Kitsap County, home to the Bremerton Naval Station and Bangor Sub Base.
  • Of the 75% of Lewis-McChord families who live off base, 40% reside in Thurston County.
The Retail Associations says Swarner offers a simple message to retailers struggling to survive the recession; remember the presence of military members in your midst and the difference they can make in improving business.

Reaching out to this market takes using all available means to tell active and Reserve military, veterans and retirees that you appreciate them, he said. You'd be amazed at how a poster in your window or a message on your reader board stating that you support the military can increase your connection with this important group of potential customers. Offer discounts, connect on Facebook, do whatever it takes.

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